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President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, praised 52 men and women from communities in northern Utah for their "enviable record of performance" to the Boy Scouts.

The men and women received the Silver Beaver award Thursday night for their service to the Great Salt Lake Council, Boy Scouts of America. The Silver Beaver is the highest honor bestowed by a local Scout council and was first given in 1926."You've given your love. It's an unqualified love; it's the desire to see boys grow to be men," President Monson told the recipients.

He described the award winners' service records as "overwhelming."

"Each merit badge on the Eagle scale is an upward step which leads to maturity and service," he said.

President Monson, who is also a member of the national Boy Scout executive board, recited a poem about two boys who stood at the crossroads of life. One boy took the low road and was lost, the other was assisted by a person at the crossroads and was successful in life.

"I'd like to feel that every one of you is at the crossroads in the life of a boy, to take him by the hand and help him find the better way of life," he told the award recipients.

President Monson also expressed gratitude for troops serving in the Persian Gulf. He said Utah National Guard and Army Reserve members in the gulf most likely recalled their assistance with the Scouting for Food campaign that gathered more than 80 million cans of food nationwide for the homeless and needy.

"In their lonely vigil, I'm confident they remember with affection the smile of a boy and the joy his face expressed when he realized he was doing something for someone else to make life even better," he said.

The Guard and reserve members helped Utah Scouts truck and store the canned goods before they were shipped to areas of need.