Like a helpful ride from a friendly neighbor - that gets you where you want to go - Scouting is a wonderful way to help accomplish the mission of the Aaronic Priesthood.
As long as we remember that the destination is more important than the vehicle.But as vehicles go, Scouting is wonderfully helpful. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, evidently understood that concept well.
Woodsmanship and outdoor skills are not the goal of Scouting, Baden-Powell said, "The end is character with purpose."
To see just how well Scouting supports the goals of the Aaronic Priesthood, let's review their respective goals.
The mission of the Aaronic Priesthood is to help each young man come unto Christ through the following:
(BU) Become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(BU) Magnify his priesthood calling.
(BU) Give meaningful service.
(BU) Prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
(BU) Commit to and serve a full-time mission.
(BU) Live worthy to receive temple covenants and prepare to become a worthy husband and father.
The Scout law teaches one to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
The Scout oath commits the Scout to similar lofty ideals:
"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."
The ideals of Scouting, when applied in a gospel environment, fully support the goals and objectives of the Aaronic Priesthood.
Scouting, then, is a vehicle - that helpful lift from a friendly neighbor - that helps accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.
The mission of the Aaronic Priesthood, of course, is the destination, that all-important goal.
The key, of course, is in making sure that the vehicle doesn't take on the same importance as the destination.
It is a wise leader who understands the difference - and the correlation - between the two.
Next to parents and family, the single most-important factor in helping young men accomplish the mission of the Aaronic Priesthood is inspired and wise adult leaders.
Young men deserve adult leaders who understand their mission. They lift and help each individual reach his divine potential. A caring and loving leader can take a given program - Scouting in this case - and adapt and apply it for the benefit of the young man.
Young men deserve adult leaders who are spiritually sensitive so they can discern individual needs and who are humble so they find joy in building others.
Young men deserve adult leaders who understand them, who sincerely love them and are willing to give of themselves for the benefit of young men. They deserve adult leaders who don't compete, but complement and praise.
Young men deserve adult leaders who show them how truly great they can be and can cultivate the young men's inherent desire to improve, achieve, advance, and improve.
And Scouting can give the leader a vehicle to do these things.
In addition, Scouting is a ready-made program with tremendous flexibility to meet local needs and interests. Because of the many facets that are already in place, Aaronic Priesthood leaders don't have to re-invent the wheel when determining the scope of an activity program.
This, of course, allows the leader more time to be with and strengthen the young man.
Beyond that, Baden-Powell must have had a fine understanding of life, balanced by a good sense of humor - as evidenced by this wry advice that most assuredly has application far beyond a camping trip in the woods:
"You can smile at the rain, if you have pitched your tent properly."