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The Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church—recently celebrated 100 years of working together. Since my 12-year-old son is a member of both organizations, I asked for his insight on the two groups. He has been taught well by his Church and Scout leaders. He said, “Scouting is learning how to use power and leadership, and the priesthood is the power and leadership you use.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The priesthood is the authority that God gives to man to act in all things for the salvation of His children. The Scouting program helps to instill the moral and ethical values necessary for proper use of the priesthood.

Cub Scouts—A Time for Preparation

Scounting helps our boys to walk uprightly. The priesthood path to exaltation. by Thomas S. MonsonIn The Church of Jesus Christ, boys enter the Scouting program as Cubs at 8—the age at which they become accountable to God for their actions and are baptized. Cub Scouts is a time of preparation, a time to prepare to enter the Boy Scouts and to receive the priesthood (if they are worthy), both of which will happen when boys turn 12. Cub Scouts memorize the Scout Oath and Scout Law. They also learn why and how to follow the guidelines. In The Church of Jesus Christ, “Primary” is the program for children ages 3 to 11. Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President, said:

Primary is a time for preparation — and the time of preparation is as critical as the time of performance. [1]

Thus, preparation for receiving the priesthood begins in Cub Scouts, where the boys are taught a higher code of ethical and moral conduct. Each boy learns the Scout Oath, which is:

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. [2]

The Scout Law outlines the desired characteristics of participants: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. [2] Each trait is vital for one to honor the oath and covenant he will make when he receives the priesthood of God. But the preparation does not end with teaching values. In a world of ever-increasing permissiveness, Sister Wixom said even Cub Scouts need the frank discussions once reserved for older boys. She said the average age a boy is first exposed to pornography is 9. [1] The Cub Scout program helps to warn both parents and children of the potential dangers. I still remember my surprise when I opened my then-8-year-old son’s Cub Scout book and discovered that we had to discuss sexual predators and Internet pornography. But I realized that safety comes in knowledge; danger lurks in ignorance. From the beginning of the program, boys are taught how to make correct decisions and avoid potential pitfalls. As they advance through the Cub Scout program, they are well-prepared for the greater responsibilities and challenges that lie ahead. The values taught in Scouting reinforce those taught in the home and at Church.

Boy Scouts—Leadership in Action

The Cub Scout program in The Church of Jesus Christ teaches boys the leadership skills necessary to progress not only in Scouts, but also in the priesthood. But the training doesn’t end in Cub Scouts. Boys Scouts is leadership in action—especially for the young men of The Church of Jesus Christ who are holders of the Aaronic—or preparatory—priesthood. From the time young men enter the Boy Scouts, they have six short years to prepare for full-time missionary service and the responsibilities of the higher, or Melchizedek, priesthood. Speaking of Scouting and the Young Men program in the Church, Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ), said:

Some of the great blessings of these programs that have been developed are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve. Our plea is that you strive to do your very best. [3]

hat is the first line of the Scout oath: Do your best. And as you do your best, the Lord will help you. Elder Hales continued:

During the preparatory period of your lives it is so important that you cultivate spiritual growth, physical growth, education, personal development, career preparation, citizenship, and social skills. These qualities are all part of your priesthood duties and will help in the decisions that lie ahead for the next decades of your life.  [3]

All of these are part of the Scouting program.

Duty to God—The Tie That Binds Mormons and Scouts

The strong ethical and moral values taught in the Boy Scout program are an excellent companion to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ has been loyal to the Scouting program because Scout leaders have stayed true to their ethical and moral roots. Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ, said:

Boy Scouts of today face issues not faced by generations before them:  declining morals, technology, addictive behavior and declining academic performance to name a few. I believe that the key to solving these issues lies in family and duty to God. If boys truly understood what their duty to God entails and lived it, they would grow safely into manhood.

…It is this common belief in duty to God that has forged the iron-strong connection with Boy Scouts of America we (i.e. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have shared over the last 100 years. One hundred years of evidence has shown that this impact-proof, non-rusting core principle works better than whatever has been, historically, the next-best idea. Duty to God is where the power lies. Duty to God is what changes lives. [4]

Teaching young men their Duty to God is the focus of the Boy Scouts of America. And that is the focus of The Church of Jesus Christ. Neither organization has an agenda, concerning youth, other than teaching the next generation how to be the best they can be. Both organizations’ strong commitment to their core values—which have stood for a hundred years—allows them to work together on their common goal.

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