The Scout Oath is a key to great benefits, President Gordon B. Hinckley said in his brief remarks during opening ceremonies of the Great Salt Lake Council 1996 Scout-O-Rama on May 4.
President Hinckley, the event's grand marshal, spoke to a large crowd gathered on the lawn in front of the Utah State Fairpark center stage. He said: "As I have looked over these Scouts this morning, my mind has gone back 74 years to when I became a Scout, and I'd simply like to stand before you and give the Scout Oath as I learned it then."Then raising three fingers of his right hand in the Boy Scout sign, he recited the oath from memory: " `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.' "
He continued: "I submit that if every boy in America would learn that oath and live by it, this land would grow ever more beautiful as the years pass, ever more peaceful, ever more law-abiding, ever more respectful, ever more reverent."
President Hinckley also spoke at the VIP breakfast earlier in the morning and rode at the front of the Scout-O-Rama's grand parade.
Approximately 15,000 boys and their leaders participated in the event, which included more than 700 booths relating to Scouting and the Scout-O-Rama's theme: "Celebrating Utah's Centennial."
At the VIP breakfast attended by Church, Scout and community leaders and dignitaries, President Hinckley thanked those who help boys through Scouting.
He said: "As I shook hands with
Salt Lake City police chief Reuben OrtegaT, I thought he would have less work to do if there was more Scouting going on among the young men of this area. We wouldn't have the kind of gang problem we have if there were more boys enrolled in Scouting because the spirit of Scouting and the spirit of gang life are contradictory one to another.
"This program builds boys, builds their future, leads them on the right track so they can make something of their lives, whereas the other kind of behavior just leads to tragedy and difficulty and problems unnumbered.
"Every man or woman who helps a boy along the road of life not only does a great thing for him, but does a great thing for society as a whole."
He said he was proud of the Church's advocacy and sponsorship of Scouting. He spoke of the role his father, Bryant S. Hinckley, played in helping establish Scouting in the Church. His father was part of a Church committee that went to New York in 1913 to study the Boy Scout program. The Boy Scouts of America had been started only three years earlier.
"The record shows that it was
my fatherT who made the motion that the Church adopt the program of the Boy Scouts of America as the activity program for boys in the LDS Church," he said. "I think he had some vision of the possibilities of this great program."
While serving in London on his mission, President Hinckley recalled, he and his companion, G. Homer Durham, went to visit Lord Robert Baden-Powell at his office in 1935. Lord Baden-Powell had organized the Boy Scouts in England in 1907.
"He was not there," President Hinckley said. "He was traveling on the continent. But we were shown about his office and had the opportunity of sitting in his chair. Above his desk was a photograph framed of the Seagull Monument on Temple Square in Salt Lake City." President Hinckley said they were told that Lord Baden-Powell was enamored over the story of the sea gulls and secured the photograph to hang it at Boy Scout headquarters.
After speaking, President Hinckley was presented a framed "Celebrating Utah's Centennial" Scout-O-Rama plate by event chairman Roland Radack.
President Hinckley quipped, "That is not the kind of plate from which I ate when I went on Scout camps."