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.