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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Philmont Leadership Challenge

I will always remember the first time I arrived at the Philmont Scout Ranch. I was filled with excitement for the week ahead as I glimpsed the summit of the Tooth of Time off in the distance as snow was just beginning to fall to the ground. What a wonderful week it was! We learned as a group, bonded as a team, and experienced the wonders of Philmont in all her glory. One morning I woke to see wild turkeys sitting in a tree, not 20 feet from where we slept, deer in the meadow foraging for grass beneath the snow, and buffalo off in the distance. Can it get any better than this?

So, when I learned about the Philmont Leadership Challenge (PLC), an action-packed backcountry leadership course, I knew that this was one training that I didn't want to miss. This one is going on my bucket list!

PLC is a week-long conference that includes hiking, camping, and a variety of high adventure activities that are challenging and inspiring. It takes place in the beautiful high desert among the mountains of the Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico. They don't call it "God's country" for nothing. At this training, Scouters from around the nation get hands-on practice in the leadership skills they learned at Wood Badge. This wilderness experience reinforces the values of Scouting, motivating participants to follow a life of helping others. Once you've finished Wood Badge, this is the ideal next step!

When is this course offered?
★ Week 7: July 20-26
★ Week 11: September 14-20

For more information:
PLC Website

Space is filling up fast!

As my first Philmont experience came to a close, I had made friends to last a lifetime, memories to last even longer, and had learned more about myself in seven days than I could have with months of classroom education. Philmont is one of those pinnacle experiences in life that you don't want to miss. I have been back many times and plan to return again very soon!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blue Angels & the Aviation Merit Badge

Have you ever dreamed of flying through the clouds, twisting, rolling and being able to soar like an eagle?

One day, when I was a young Boy Scout, I rode my bicycle several miles to the local airport in Hurricane, Utah. Standing outside the fence, I watched in wonder and amazement as a small airplane would roar to life, speed down the runway, take off, bank and twist in a pattern over the airport and town, and come back in for a landing. I admired this airplane and dreamed of flying as I watched it repeat these maneuvers over and over. After a while, the pilot noticed me and taxied over to where I was standing. He leaned out the door of the airplane and asked if I had ever flown before. When I told him, "No," he waved his hand and said, "Well, come on then!" His airplane was no bigger than a VW Bug with wings, but to me it seemed like a 747! I climbed in the seat, buckled up tight, and we taxied down the runway. The engine roared to life as he handed me a headset to wear. We did several touch-n-go practices before I asked him about the shape of his airplane; I wondered why it was shaped like a boat. He changed course to fly in the direction of a nearby lake as he explained to me that it was an amphibian aircraft. We flew over the top of the lake, what seemed like just a few feet above the water, and then made a banking turn to come in for an exciting water landing. As we floated to a stop, he turned off the engine and let me open the doors to dangle my feet in the cool water. If only we had fishing poles! He let me hold the yoke as we flew back to the airport and came in for a landing. I had the opportunity to go through pre-flight and post-flight checks with him and learned a lot of useful information about aviation that day. At the end of our brief encounter he asked if I was a Boy Scout. When I told him that I was, he said, "Well, then you passed off about 80% of the requirements for the Aviation Merit Badge. Come back and see me tomorrow and we will work on the rest!"

It was such an awesome experience as a young boy to soar through the sky like an eagle around my home town and to learn about aviation from such an experienced pilot...

Now our Scouts can earn their Aviation Merit Badges at an event which also hosts the spectacular aerobatics of the famous Blue Angels!

 July 25-26, 2014
St. George Municipal Airport

Scouts have the amazing opportunity to camp overnight at the St. George Municipal Airport during the Thunder Over Utah air show where they will work on their Aviation Merit Badges with some great pilots!

Aviation Merit Badge clinic and airport campout sign-up HERE

Win an airplane ride for your Scouting unit!

Scouts can also spread the word about this fun family event and help raise money for the Boy Scouts of America in Southern Utah. In connection with United Way Dixie, Thunder Over Utah is having a contest where the Scouting unit with the most ticket sales will receive the awesome prize of being able to take their whole troop on an airplane ride over the air show!

To participate in this competition:
  1. Forward this blog article to all of your friends and family.
  2. Ask them to purchase tickets for the Thunder Over Utah event at 
  3. Be sure they use your Scouting unit's number as the promotion code. (For example, if you are in Troop 385, you would use "BSA385" in the promotion code area when you buy your tickets.)
  4. Pick up posters from the Scout Office in St. George, Utah (202 N 1000 E). Display these posters at local businesses and the location where your Scouting unit meets to invite others to help you win the contest! (Remember to write in your Scouting unit number where you see "BSA_____" on the poster so that your unit gets credit for any tickets purchased.)

Throughout the ages, youth and adults alike from all walks of life have dreamed of flying through the skies. I will always remember the incredible experience of earning my Aviation Merit Badge from a real pilot. I hope that all of our Scouts in Southern Utah come out to this event to do the same!

Register HERE for the Aviation Merit Badge and airport campout today!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Leaders of the Next Generation

How does the Scout Oath and Law help to create the leaders of tomorrow? 

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.

Scout Law
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. 

As a boy, before each Scout meeting could start, our troop always repeated together the Scout Oath and Scout Law with our arms held to the Scout Sign. I remember doing this every time!  Looking back over the last 30 years, I can see that I continue striving to live by them every day. But this is not a conscious decision anymore, it is a reaction to a permanent mark made long ago that reminds me to live by these sacred words.

The promise that I would be a good Scout throughout my life was blazoned on my mind with indelible ink.

In my home I have a picture of the "Lawton Law." As a family we have adopted the Scout Law as our own. This law hangs in our living room and represents what I expect my children to be and become, not only now as they are young, but as they grow to maturity. My hope is that they will become men and women of leadership and responsibility in society. 

Think back for a moment about who are your greatest hero leaders of the past and present...

  • Did they personify the qualities of the Scout Oath and Law? 
  • Did they knowingly or unknowingly live by these fundamental truths? 

Chances are they absolutely lived by these Scouting principles! This is why you see them as leaders and heroes who will stand the test of time!

What do we need to do to make sure these values are firmly affixed in both the hearts and minds of our children and the youth we work with? It is they who will be the leaders of the next generation. I believe that our youth must not only hear and repeat the words, but they must also see the example of these Scouting values put into action in the lives of today's leaders; their parents, Scout leaders, political and religious leaders, neighbors, and even sporting coaches. It is up to us to set that example! Let us all commit to live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in our every day lives.

Thank you for all you do for the leaders of the next generation… We are involved in a great work!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day Camp!

To me, as an eight year old Wolf Cub Scout, the greatest thing in the world was to be staring down the barrel of a Daisy BB gun preparing to fire a "real" rifle. You better believe that everyone heard all about my sharp shooting when I returned home! It was such an exhilarating feeling to conquer the biggest high adventure event of my eight year old life!

Day camp is a great way to introduce Cub Scouts and 11 year old Scouts to high adventure activities they would normally not have the opportunity to participate in. It allows boys to experience Scout camp at an introductory level. They enjoy all of the excitement of camp activities during the day and then return home to sleep in their own beds at night.

When I was an 11 year old Boy Scout, my Scoutmaster, Mack Sanders, took our patrol to the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp in Southern Utah. I felt great anticipation as we drove up a winding dirt road to the aspen covered mountain tops where day camp was held. We were thrilled to shoot at the rifle range, challenged ourselves on the COPE course, enjoyed all of the arts and crafts available, and grew together as a patrol.  At the end of this eventful day, our bodies were worn out, but our hearts and minds were invigorated.

To me, day camp meant the thrill of shooting a BB gun, the challenge of the bow and arrow, and the excitement of the Scouting games. We may forget the patches and awards earned there that day, but we will never forget the feelings of accomplishment we experienced!

Some Local Day Camps:
Camp Jeremiah Johnson
Snow Canyon Cub Scout Day Camp - Session 1, Session 2, Session 3
Snow Canyon Webelos Twilight Camp - Session 1, Session 2

My oldest son will become a Wolf Cub Scout in August and you better believe he is going to love his day camp experience!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

WAHOO Mountain Man Rendezvous

A veteran Scouter came to visit with me recently and explained how he thinks we need to "up our game" as a Scouting movement. He believes that in order to create men who are tough, men who have understanding, and men who can survive in a changing world, we need to do a better job teaching our boys how to do things that are difficult. In his mind, Scouting had lost some of those things, but I am here to tell you that we are still in the game! Sometimes it is just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities available.

Scouting can absolutely teach our boys what they need to know to be great men!

There is something about Scouting's high adventure activities that challenge our boys to bring out the best in a themselves, showing them who they are and what they can do.

  • Have you ever rappelled over the edge of a huge cliff while thinking to yourself, "I hope this gear holds me!"
  • Have you ever gone toe to toe with your peers in a shotgun shooting contest to see what you were made of?
  • Have you ever sat on a trading blanket and learned negotiation skills from a master mountain man?
  • Have you ever stared up at the stars in wonder and thought, "I am sure there is more than me in this great universe!"
  • Have you ever cooked your own dutch oven dinner and competed against other troops for the best of the best dinner?
  • Have you ever tested your skills in the cross-cut saw?

Big Rendezvous Event
June 5th - 7th, 2014

In just a few weeks, Varsity Scouts will converge on the Beaver High Adventure Base to enjoy a challenging (and exciting!) weekend at the WAHOO Mountain Man Rendezvous. Don't miss this opportunity to bring your Varsity Scouts to the Beaver High Adventure Base without the time and financial commitment of spending an entire week.

"The greatest generation" did not become the greatest by having an easy childhood. They were constantly challenged to grow in strength and understanding as they faced the difficult things in their lives. Let's take advantage of the opportunities Scouting provides in our day in order to challenge our boys to become the strong and capable men they were meant to be!

Register for WAHOO today:

P.S. I will be helping with the rock climbing section… Come and join me! It will be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I Can Sleep When The Wind Blows

When I was a boy I went camping with my grandfather, Carlon Hinton. He was a retired farmer who loved to tell stories from his farm life in Arizona. My cousins and I huddled close around the campfire, with the wind howling behind us, as we listened to our grandfather tell about hiring a new ranch hand...

I owned 10 sections of land just south of the airport at Luke Air Force Base west of Phoenix, Arizona. One day I found that I needed some help managing all of the cows, cotton, and corn that I had planted, so I put an advertisement in the newspaper for a farm foreman. Over the next couple of days I had several people call on me to request employment, but most of the men decided that the job was too much work and decided not to start. One man in particular captured my attention when he came to me and said, "Carlon, I can sleep when the wind blows." This statement struck me as odd, but I needed the help so I hired him on the spot. After several weeks of training, followed by a much-needed vacation on my part, I returned home during a great storm. It was one of those Arizona monsoons, a blow the doors off the barn kind of wind storm! I immediately went to my new ranch hand's house and knocked on his window: tap tap tap, then Pound Pound Pound, then BANG BANG BANG! After several minutes of pounding a very annoyed foreman came to the door and ask what I needed. I said, "Can you not hear the wind? Do you not see the rain? We need to get the chickens and the cows in and close the barn doors with bolts to keep them safe against this storm!" My new foreman put his hand on my shoulder and calmly said, "Remember, I can sleep when the wind blows." I told him I was not concerned with his sleeping habits, I was concerned with my farm! He explained that he could sleep when the wind blew because he lived by the motto, "Be Prepared." He always closed up the barn and bolted the doors and was prepared for a storm every time he left the farm. That was how he could sleep when the wind blew

My cousins and I were mesmerized by this story and wondered what we could do to be able to sleep when the wind blew. After a few minutes of silence, one of my cousins finally asked, "Grandpa, how can we be prepared?" If you knew my grandfather, you would know that he was a great scoutmaster and this was exactly the response he was hoping for. He quoted the Scout Oath and Scout Law to us, then told us that we needed to "be prepared" for a mission, a righteous temple marriage, and that we needed to prepare to be the leaders of our generation by studying the leaders of previous generations.

I will be forever grateful to my grandfather for teaching me how to "sleep when the wind blows." 

Helaman 5:12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's Not About Rock Climbing...

Imagine yourself overlooking a vast expanse of the Arizona desert, standing on the top of a sheer cliff, 200 feet above a rocky gorge below. You peer over the edge and your heart skips a beat. Beside you are some of your closest friends, encouraging you to step to the edge of this rocky cliff and jump...

I recently returned home from teaching a rock climbing course at a BSA National Camp School. This course was designed to train Scouters who will go on to oversee high-adventure rock climbing courses as Climbing Directors at Boy Scout facilities throughout the nation.

They not only learned the ins and outs of rock climbing, but they also learned why we do rock climbing and rappelling in the Boy Scouts of America.

Throughout the course we taught and trained the participants concerning all of the aspects and skills needed to climb and rappel safely and how to teach these skills to Scouts and their leaders. A lot was learned throughout the week, but each participant ultimately came to realize that the true point of our training was to learn how to connect the games of Scouting back to the lives of those we teach. As important as it is to be proficient in rock climbing when teaching this skill, the real reason we do high adventure in the Boy Scouts of America is to help youth to overcome their anxieties and fears in life so that they can become everything they hope to be. 

My personal story of overcoming fear through Scouting began when I attended a Boy Scout camp in Southern Utah as a boy. I was the nerdy kid in the troop who couldn't even look someone in the eye and talk with them because of the fear I felt inside. At this Scout camp I was challenged to scale what seemed to be an incredibly tall rock climbing wall. Hesitantly I tried, and very quickly I found out that not only could I do it, but I was actually really good at it. I even became the fastest climber in the camp that week! This realization was a turning point in my life. Once I found out that I was good at rock climbing, I knew that I could do anything else I put my mind to!

So once again, imagine yourself standing on the top of that 200 foot cliff with the world beneath you... This time you are filled with confidence and assurance. Trust in your gear, trust in your partner, and trust in the Lord! The great cliffs in our life can be our steppingstones to the future.

If we can translate rock climbing into better Scouts, better husbands, and better fathers, together we can change the world! 

Losing a Scout at Goblin Valley... Almost!

Imagine the stars as bright as the headlights of a car above you, a clear winter night in mid-February, with the towering hoodoos in the distance. We were planning to go on a slot canyon hike in the morning, so I rolled out my sleeping bag to try and get some rest. It was 2004, and my assistant Scoutmaster and I had brought seven brand new 11-year-old Scouts to Goblin Valley, outside of Hanksville, Utah, to commune with nature in the great outdoors…

We had done everything that we thought we needed to in order to "Be Prepared." 

We prepared by doing a gear shakedown a couple of days before this trip. We had previously gone on a 5 mile hike (which turned into a 20 mile hike) that prepared us for physical challenges. We had prepared by teaching the boys most of the preparedness skills during their First Class rank advancements. We even did last minute checks of all gear and food. We had assigned the Senior Patrol Leader to work with the Quartermaster to bring a nice meal of tinfoil dinners so that we were prepared with good food to eat. The SPL had assigned another patrol member to bring wood for the fire, and another to bring the patrol tent.

As we laid out camp after dark, one of the patrol members came to me and said, "Scoutmaster Lawton, we have a problem..." The Boy Scout who was in charge of bringing the patrol tent had not set it up before coming to make sure that all of the parts had been put away properly last time. One of the main crossbeam poles, as well as the rain fly, were missing.

I thought to myself, "This should be a great learning opportunity." These new Scouts were asked to rig the tent the best they could with the resources they had available. It looked like something from a hobo camp, but the Scouts were able to roll out their sleeping bags inside and get comfortable.

It was one of those nights where it got so cold that it seemed like your heart could stop beating. One of the times I woke up during the night I checked the thermometer on my sleeping bag and it read 9 degrees Fahrenheit! To this day, after the hundreds of nights I have spent in a sleeping bag, I can honestly say that I have never slept well on a Scout camp out. I have spent many, many nights up worried about my Scouts, and this night was one of the worst.

By three or 4 o'clock in the morning I was seriously worried that we were going to lose a Scout or two!

The boys were so cold that night that they ended up in one big pile in the middle of the tent. Icicles had formed from the moisture in their breath and the dew on the mesh tarps hung where the rain fly should have been. The water in our cooler had frozen solid, as well as in each of their canteens.

At best I figured that they were never going to want to go camping ever again! 

But quite the contrary happened the next morning… At sun break the boys squirmed out of bed and started the fire, they bragged about the cold night they had endured, and went about the business of the day. After hiking through Ding and Dang Canyon we returned to our camp to pack up and go home. On the hike, as well as the four hour car ride back to Provo, all they could talk about was how tough they were as 11 year old Scouts! They bragged to their parents and the older Scouts on Sunday as well. I fully believe that even to this day they look back on their freezing cold star filled night in Goblin Valley as a defining moment in their lives…

If they can survive a night like that, they can survive anything they put their mind to!

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Tribute to the True Heroes of Scouting!

Have you ever been asked, "How many Eagle Scouts does your mother have?"

My wonderful mother, Phylis Lawton, has four Eagle Scout sons, is the rock of the Scouting movement in our family, and is one of my greatest heroes!

While I don't recall my mother ever wearing a Scout uniform, she sure lives the ideals of Scouting every day in her life. I will forever remember the day when I was a teenager and became stranded without gas after I had disobediently taken the family vehicle for a ride in the south fields of Hurricane, Utah. After just a little time had passed, my mother unexpectedly showed up with a can of gasoline. With a smile and a joking manner she said, "Did you forget to 'Be Prepared?'" Even though she did not know which way I had gone, she had been led by the Spirit to come and rescue me!

Thank you to my mother, and mothers everywhere, who continue to "Be Prepared!"

My mom must have learned this lesson from her mother, Verna Hinton, who is known in our family as the grandmother and great-grandmother of all things good. Between her sons, her son-in-law's, grandsons, in-laws, outlaws, and others, Grandma Verna has over 100 Eagle Scouts in her family!

She tells the story of sending her husband, Carlon Hinton, on a Scout activity to hike the Grand Canyon. After dropping off his Scout troop at the North Rim, she drove around to the other side to wait the three days to pick them up. After waiting four and a half days she finally received word that the troop had turned around and hiked out the same way they had hiked in. There was a problem along the trail, and back in those days (the mid 1950's) there were no cell phones or radios to receive word back and forth. What a great and stalwart woman to put up with and help move forward the great cause Scouting!

The things that Grandma Verna taught to my mother Phyllis about what it means to be a Scouting mother will remain for generations to come, living forever in the hearts and minds of thousands of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They not only were great mothers in Scouting, but are examples of what it means to live and teach the Scout Oath and Law every day of their lives by their example.

This is a tribute to all of the mothers out there who are the true heroes of Scouting! They pushed their boys to become more than they were and all that the Lord desired them to be. Though they never received a Scouting award of their own, they truly have earned each of those merit badges and rank advancements. Your Eagle Scout award is a badge of honor for her.

The next time someone asks, "How many Eagle Scouts does your mother have?," please be sure to answer with pride.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sacred Fire

I recently had the opportunity to see an original painting by Jon McNaughton which is titled, Sacred Fire. The painting was incredible, with vibrant colors and stunning imagery, but it was the symbolic message of the fire building in this piece of art that has deeply inspired me. 

What does this sacred fire mean to you?

As I look at these great men from history, huddled close together around this fire, I see each one adding a new log of truth and knowledge to the fire of Scouting. In the center is Lord Baden-Powell, the founder and father of Scouting, who lit and nurtured the first small flames of this movement. The other men have each contributed their log and are now watching as Thomas S. Monson adds his. I can imagine countless others who have followed in their footsteps, learning from these leader's examples and from one another, how best to use the methods of Scouting to greatly impact the lives of their young Scouts. I can see how hundreds of years of Scouting experience, from the founders of Scouting down to our modern-day leaders, have combined for the betterment of our youth today, who will become the leaders of the next generation.

How will you contribute your log to the fire? 

I think of my great-grandfather, William Hinton. He was a boy's man if ever there was one. He played games that taught lessons and was not afraid to preach a sermon when needed. He contributed of his time, his talents, and even his money, to bettering the youth he came in contact with. He was a farmer by trade, but his real love was making sure the water in the canal made it to the farms. He became the "ditch master" in Hurricane, Utah, and was assigned to ride his horse down the canal bank from top to bottom, over 22 miles, every single day. As he did so, he was watching for things that were out of the ordinary, signs of weakness or disrepair that could become a problem in the future.

He liked to compare the canal to young men. He believed that just as you need to watch for signs of danger in the canal, you must also watch out for and care for our youth. If you can catch a small hole in the canal in time, then you can repair it quickly. But if you wait until the ditch water is raging through the hole, it becomes almost unstoppable.

It is easier to build a boy than to mend a man.

I am grateful for the leaders in my life who watched out for me and chose to build me as a boy. There were countless people who went before, adding their log to the "sacred fire" of Scouting, so that it would be alive and burning strong when I needed it so much in my life.

Can you imagine yourself standing near the circle of firelight with those great men? Although not pictured, I believe that my great-grandfather was absolutely a builder of this sacred fire! Whether you are a den leader, a scoutmaster, a merit badge adviser, or a committee member, parents, donors, alumni, and well wishers to the Scouting movement, you too can add your log to the fire.

We can all make a difference in the life of a boy!

For more information about how you can obtain your own copy of this painting, click HERE.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gathering of Eagles

Next month, on Friday, May 9th, there will be a Gathering of Eagles event to honor local Eagle Scout men who have made a difference in our community. These men point back to their Scouting experiences, specifically their Eagle Scout award, as the pivotal defining moment in their lives.

Preparing for this event to recognize those who have obtained the highest rank in Boy Scouting reminds me of when I was a 15 year old boy working toward earning my own Eagle Scout award.  

The service project that I organized turned out to be the foundation for all of the project management endeavors that I have done ever since.

The project that I chose was to renovate a complete playground at the Hurricane Elementary School in my home town of Hurricane, Utah. It had been over 20 years since this playground had been updated, with equipment that was dilapidated at best and downright dangerous at worst. I submitted a proposal to the principal and the school board for permission to re-level the playground equipment which had sunk over the years as well as paint all of this old equipment.

I was asked to come to the school board meeting and present my idea, defending it in front of a panel of 6 to 8 adult school board members. I had to "be prepared" with pictures and drawings of what it would look like in the future, be ready to field questions about the scope of the project, plan for the cost of the project, as well as outline the timing for completing the project.  

To say the least, I was scared to death!

I stayed up many nights preparing an overhead projector presentation for the meeting, memorizing a script of what I would say in answer to different questions, and ultimately writing it all out in a book to present to them. Before the meeting I said a quick prayer asking for help to remember everything I had prepared and then went in wearing my Scout uniform to present my plan. Of course now I realize that they were most likely not expecting very much from this 15-year-old kid… But man did I deliver! I think I was prepared as much for that presentation as any I have made in front of board meetings or corporations or sales jobs ever since in my whole life.

I know what the Eagle Scout award means to me, so I relish the opportunity to honor those who share my feelings and have continued to let their Eagle experience influence them and all those they have the opportunity to serve.

Friday, May 9th at the SUU Centrum Arena

At this night of awards, these deserving men will be presented with the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America. There are less than 2000 men in the world who have ever received this award, including Thomas S. Monson, Randy Wilkinson, Neil Armstrong, Donald Hinton, and many other great and respected men.

This short video highlights who these men are today and where they came from in Scouting and in life. The first man speaking in the video is currently the LDS temple President in St. George, Utah. The other men are ecclesiastical leaders in churches, businessmen, and outstanding pillars of the community today. All of them point back to their time in Scouting, and specifically their Eagle Scout project, as greatly influencing their future lives.

As a 15-year-old boy, I had to decide on a project, submit my proposal, get permission to do the project, obtain funding for a project, rally resources and labor to complete the project, and then manage a team of hundreds of volunteers to finish off this huge project. Remembering my Eagle Scout project, and the day I received my Eagle Scout award, reminds me of the thousands of young men that received their Eagle and are now doing great things as adults for the leaders of the next generation.

I hope and pray that I can live up to the honor bestowed upon me as a 15 year old kid. 

We will see you at this great event, and thank you for all you are currently doing for the leaders of the next generation… We are involved in a great work!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hurricane Mud Run - 2014

In 2013, my wife Melissa and I, along with a few friends, competed in a Warrior Dash mud run in Arizona. We trained, we worked, we ran, we sweat, and ultimately we conquered a grueling 3.1 miles of mud. Among other obstacles, we scaled several 30 foot climbing walls and scrambled through disgusting mud pits, finally arriving at an imposing pit of mud with barbed-wire strung across the top of it! We had to swim through the mud, under the barbed-wire, and then jump over a line of fire in order to ultimately cross the finish line.

This was a very difficult, wonderful, and memorable experience in my life, one that I consider life-changing. Once I had completed this grueling 3.1 mile race, I knew that I could accomplish just about anything I wanted to!

And now you, your friends, and your family have the opportunity to get good and dirty too!

Please join me on Saturday, May 17th as I get muddy in the Hurricane Mud Run

Register for this race by going to:  Be sure to use the coupon code: BSA to receive a 10% discount and support The Boy Scouts of America locally.

So the question I pose today is, what kind of difficult things are we doing as adults that set the example for our children, helping them to be prepared for the difficult things they will need to do in the future? 

It could be as simple as running a grueling 3.1 mile mud run, or as challenging as climbing Mount Everest! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Help Other People at All Times

Tonight my family and I had the opportunity to serve an older couple in our neighborhood. It was not something that we were asked to do. We were thinking about what to do for Family Home Evening when my oldest daughter suggested that a couple in the neighborhood needed their lawn mowed. So, we voted on it as a family and then headed over to their house.

After completing most of the yard work, our neighbor came home and surprised us by giving big hugs and kisses for a job well done!

My question tonight is, what does the line in the Scout oath which says, "to help other people at all times," really mean? Can we really help other people ALL the time? How do we possibly do this and still accomplish anything else in life? 

I guess the real question is, how can we instill in our young people a sense of service and the idea of helping other people at all times?

Obviously I am a big believer in The Boy Scouts of America and the values this organization teaches to both the youth and adults who participate. But what is the best method for taking those ideals of Scouting and instilling them into the next generation? I believe this happens as our youth see the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law personified in their adult leaders and parents who are living these ideals day to day in everything they do. And then our youth need to be held accountable to live those ideals by parents, leaders, and society in general.

What methods do you use as leaders of the next generation to instill the value of helping other people at all time into your youth? 

Corporate Derby

Our Corporate Pinewood Derby fundraiser was a great success! 

We had over 40 businesses come out to race pinewood derby cars for a chance to win a REAL CAR from our main sponsor, the Stephen Wade Auto Center.

Over $15,000 was raised to help local Scouts and leaders do what they need to do to become the people they are to become!

These events remind me of why we come together as a family and as a community. Pulling together, we set our children and grandchildren up to have an even better life than we now enjoy. As we voluntarily give of our time, talents, and resources, we see ourselves and the world change to a higher, more perfect place.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this great Scouting movement. A movement that helps our youth and leaders become trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, and all that! I love that my own kids are learning these important values each time they raise their arm to the Scout sign and repeat these words.


Venturing Crew 1948 went horse back riding this week!

In The Boy Scouts of America we know that the number one quality kids need to be able to have as an adult is the ability to do hard things

The things they learn might be as easy as horse back riding or as hard as climbing an imposing cliff.  Maybe they will sum up the courage to jump off of a 100 foot high tower to race across a mile long wire suspended high above the earth while zip-lining at 50 miles per hour (surrounded by trees!).

Whatever we plan to do with our kids, let's remember that in the process we are teaching them (and ourselves) to do hard things!

The hard things we do now are how we will Be Prepared for hard things in the future.

Hard Things

My son had a hard day at church today. Before we even got started with the opening song he was crabby, whiny, and ready to take a nap...   

This experience makes me wonder about the importance of having our children do hard things

I fully believe that children (and adults for that matter) need to do hard things now so that they will "be prepared" to do hard things in the future. These things may start with picking up after themselves and doing their own dishes as a young child, cleaning the house and vacuuming as they get a little older, to growing up and being able to hold down a newspaper route or other job. As a youth, I was expected to mow lawns and sell fireworks at a local fireworks stand. 

I want to make sure that my kids know how to do these types of hard things now, because someday in the future they will be called upon to do even hard things.

Think of the hard things that previous generations were asked to do: Crossing the plains as pioneers to serving in and enduring World Wars I and II. Each of our previous generations had huge tasks they needed to do, but they could do them because they had been prepared as youth by their parents and other adults (even Scout leaders). Back then it seemed like an entire town would pull together to make sure that the youth of the next generation were prepared to take over where the current generation had left off.

So my question today as I see this little worn out boy of mine is:  
"Are we doing enough for our youth, or are we doing too much?"

I truly believe we can help them to be more prepared by letting them experience some hard things early on in their life.

The other day I was talking with a tenured leader of youth who was just about to begin work at a training center for missionaries. He told me that every youth preparing to leave home needs to do a couple very important things: 
  1. They need to have a significant away from home experience (like Scout camp) 
  2. They need to be able to detach themselves from the gadgets of the world (the iPhones, the droids, the iPad, the computers, the headphones with music blaring in their ears). Is that a hard thing for your children? It sure is for mine! 

We can not give up and let this generation go to the dogs. We must help our youth become the next greatest generation. We must rise up to help them learn to do hard things. I believe that The Boy Scouts of America as one of those anchors that will teach this next generation how to become great! 

As I look at my sleeping little boy I think about how someday he will be racing a pinewood derby down the track (after building it with me). He will learn from the great leaders in his Scouting unit, go on 50 mile backpacking trips and week-long camp-outs. He will gain the character developmentcitizenship, and fitness that he needs to become a man of great understanding in both worldly and spiritual things. A man who will be prepared to be a leader of the next-generation, to take over where I and others will leave off. As I look to the future, I hope and pray that he will have great Scout leaders like I had growing up!

What things will you do to help your children have experience with doing hard things? 
Will you send them to summer camp or the national jamboree?  
Will you have them go on a mini church mission?