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