Diamonds, denoting three quarters of a century, seem very appropriate for a remarkable anniversary that takes place this year - the 75th anniversary of the cooperative relationship between the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since 1913, Scouting has been helping young men in the Church who are literally "diamonds in the rough," to shape and polish their lives for useful work and service.
For these 75 years, Scouting has been the only activity rooted outside the Church that has been adopted as part of the Church's official program.As an adjunct to the Aaronic Priesthood program of the Church, Scouting has touched thousands and thousands of boys on their way to manhood and has made them stronger in the process.
Scouting began in England under the inspired leadership of Lord Robert Baden Powell. It soon spread to the United States where it has flourished. Much of its success has come from the fact that it is solidly based on an individual boy's honor, his duty to God and country, and his service to others through daily good deeds. What better things could be taught to pre-teen and teenage boys, especially in the tumultuous world of the '80s?
"On my honor I will do my best . . ." begins the Scout oath. Learning to be honorable and to do his best makes any boy better and every man stronger. The oath continues ". . . I will do my duty to God and to my country." Beyond a boy's own family obligations, obedience to God's commandments and allegiance to country are the most fundamental aspects of living. Far too many youth today are being shown examples of those who defy the laws of God and who have no pride in their country.
These is still more for the boy in Scouting, for he is taught to keep himseelf ". . . physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." Oh, how today's world cries out for such traits in its youth. Physical vigor is so important in a largely sedentary society. Scouting, properly pursued, provides such well-being.
The information explosion makes it hard for anyone to learn everything there is to know, but Scouting offers a boy the callenge to pursue knowledge and gain wisdom.
As the world wallows in its cesspools of immorality and debauchery, how refreshing it is to know that Scouting still stands four-square on the foundation of moral purity.
In addition to such desirable characteristics in the life of a boy, Scouting also teaches him to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
A Scout learns these characteristics and traits through interesting and challenging activities, both indoors and outdoors, and also through a play of advancing through ranks toward desired goals.
Part of the genius of Scouting is its plan of growth starting in Cubbing and going through rank advancements toward the coveted Eagle badge. What power comes into a boy's life as he learns that progress comes by a steady effort of meeting specific requirements with appropriate rewards along the way.
Is it any wonder, then, that in 1913 the leaders of the Church saw fit to include Scouting along with its Aaronic Priesthood program? Scouting has blessed the lives of countless young men is these 75 years, and will continue to do so as it is sponsored by the Church. Of Church sponsorship, the late Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Council of the Twelve said:
"If Scouting would not make better Latter-day Saints, we would not have Scouting in the Church. But because Scouting does make boys better Latter-day Saints, we take it into the Church, and it has been adopted by the Church. . . . You cannot divorce Church work from Scouting. When you are building Scouting in your boys, you are building the work of God and helping to establish the Kingdom here on the earth." (See Toward a Better Life, p. 335.)
Scouting work is Church work, and for 75 years has assisted the Aaronic Priesthood program in helping bring salvation to the souls of boys in the Kingdom of God.
May it ever continue to do so.