President Thomas S. Monson lauded the dynamic nature of Scouting and praised the partnership between the Aaronic Priesthood and the activity arm of Scouting in a Jan. 29 Church News interview.

"One thing I appreciate about Scouting is the fact that leaders at all levels look for successful efforts to keep the program current to the daily lives of our young men," said President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency. "For example, one of the most successful elements of Scouting today is its campaign encouraging our young men to avoid drugs. That was not part of the Scouting program when the needs were different. But today, by enlisting prominent sports, cultural and political figures who encourage our youth to `Don't do drugs,' it is having a positive impact."President Monson cited two other instances of Scouting adapting to changing needs: the Scouting for Food effort to feed the nation's hungry, and the ever-changing merit badge program.

"Scouting for Food is undertaken to meet the commodity needs of the homeless and others in need throughout the communities of America," said President Monson. "On a given Saturday each fall, Scouts in most cities canvass nearly every home, seeking contributions of canned or packaged food items.

"I've heard from some of those who have contributed, each one grateful for the opportunity to give and none the worse off for having given generously. It's that spirit of giving that touches the giver and blesses the Boy Scouts and others who help in the effort. The response to Scouting for Food has been overwhelming and has far exceeded original expectations both in participation and in the volume of items collected."

Concerning merit badges, President Monson noted that some become obsolete and are dropped from the program, while new ones are continually being added to keep pace with changing times and interests.

"I have always felt that the merit badge portion of Scouting gives young men an opportunity to sample the various fields of endeavor and thereby develop an improved idea of what that particular Scout would like to do with his life," he noted.

The Church leader concluded by praising committed leaders of Scouting on all levels:

"I still remember my first camping experience as a Scout," he recalled, "having a great time in the out-of-doors. As I moved along in life, I developed an even greater appreciation for those men who could have been doing many other things in their busy lives, but who chose to provide for Boy Scouts in their charge.

"Chief Scout Ben Love and his associates provide excellent guidance and help to those of us engaged in the Scouting effort within the Church. They are dedicated men, high principled men who take seriously their commitment of `Duty to God.' We have a splendid working relationship, and perhaps that stems from the fact that our basic objective is to help a precious boy develop into a noble man."