Assigned Title: The Family and the Church: A Partnership Supported
[Tell the story of Stan's Eagle Project.]
What did the Eagle project teach my son?
First--and most important--service to others.
Matthew 25:40 - And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.
Luke 6:32-35 - For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend [to them] of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil.
Second, leadership and responsibility.
The leader must organize and motivate. To lead a group to do good expands the sphere of goodness by orders of magnitude. It blesses the lives of those being served as well as those doing the serving. And the leader is the catalyst that makes it happen.
The Leader is responsible--get the glory and the pain. Must make up the difference when others fail. Must pick up the pieces when others drop them.
He learned how to deal with adults. He learned that problems are better solved than ignored. He learned that if he wanted to have his project approved he had to perform. He learned he had to go the extra mile and endure to the end.
The Eagle project is the crowning experience of Scouting. It is a "Mount Everest" experience. The boy is never the same afterword. It is the best preparation for Elder's Quorum President the Church has to offer teenage boys. I know of no other activity available to teenaged boys, including sports, drama, music, and academics, that comes close to developing spiritual maturity, social responsibility, and personal self-worth than the Eagle project.
There are three partners in the Church Scouting program. The Scout, who must do all the work; the parents, who must motivate and facilitate participation; and the Church in the form of Scout leaders who must provide the opportunity.
Any parent who denies their son the opportunity to do an Eagle project--through failure to motivate and facilitate--deprives that boy of one of the most spiritually uplifting and maturing opportunities the Church has to offer. I don't believe parents can remain blameless if they cavalierly reject the counsel of general and local authorities to motivate their sons to do the Eagle project.
[Tell the story of the Bishop and prospective missionary who doesn't want to go because he doesn't like to ride bikes--he's missed the point.]
Same with parents who say they won't help a boy in Scouting because he doesn't like to camp. They miss the point.
The purpose of Scouting is not to have fun nor is it to go camping. It is to prepare young men to become responsible, spiritually aware adults. As a Scoutmaster I am NOT in the 'fun' business--I am in the 'saving souls' business. These are the same purposes parents have for their children, and the same purposes the Church has for our children. Scouting uses fun as a lure to get the boys to come out, but if the focus of a Scouting program ever slips from advancement to outdoor and fun activity, we will have failed. To a boy--in my Scoutmaster conferences--they say that camping is the best part of scouts. But I know better. Living the Oath and Law are the best part of Scouts. But if the boys will live the Law and Oath, if I take them on a camp out, well then, we have a good deal.
All of the camp craft requirements (rope tying, compass, hiking, etc.) are to be completed in the first year (11 year old Scouts). By the time a boy enters the main troop at age 12, he should have his First Class and be ready to begin working on merit badges. Only two of the twelve required badges--Camping and Environmental Science--deal with outdoors stuff. The other 10 prepare the young man to accept the responsibilities of adulthood--the Citizenship merit badges, Family Life, Personal Management, Communications, Emergency Preparedness, etc.
The merit badge interview is very important. The purpose is to prepare young men for job interviews. On the trail to Eagle they will have 21 opportunities to convince a person in a position of power and authority that they (the boy) should receive the benefit they (the adult) can bestow (merit badge/job). This process is repeated in the Boards of Review, the most rigorous of which is the Eagle Board.
[Tell story of map and compass hike in woods]
The map is like the scriptures and the compass is like the Holy Ghost.
Let me make one last point about the role of Scouting in the lives of our young men.
[Tell about eight boys in one tent.]
One healthy by-product of the Scouting experience is the friendships they
develop. During elementary school there is not much difference between the
moral standards between our young men and their non-Mormon friends. That
situation is radically altered in Middle School, and becomes a wide gulf
in High School. Our young men must bond together to fend off the incredible
pressure they will receive to smoke, drink, do drugs, and have sex. It is
a rare boy who can resist these temptations all by himself. The time spent
from age 11 to 14 in the Scouting program is the time to cement these friendships
before the tempest comes.
Brothers and Sisters, in my years of service in the Church I have been
The Nursery Leader in two wards
Gospel Doctrine and Gospel Essentials Teacher
First and Second Elder's Counselor
First and Second Bishop's Counselor
Assistant to High Priests Group Leader
Early morning Seminary and weekly Institute teacher
Full-time Missionary and Stake Missionary
Ward Clerk and Executive Secretary
Restricted Ordinance Worker at the Temple
Stake advisor to a Spanish Ward
Young Men's President and Home Teacher
Chorister and Priesthood Instructor
And I have been the Scoutmaster/Deacon's Advisor for four years.
With the exception of full-time missionary service, I have never felt the Spirit so strongly and so constantly in any calling more than as Scout Master/Deacon's advisor. The Spirit has allowed my shoulders to bear the burdens that the Lord has placed on them. The Spirit has allowed me to run and not be weary. The Spirit has allowed me to walk and not faint. My bad back has survived sleeping on the ground and carrying a backpack. This is the work of the Lord. Scouting is where the rubber of the gospel meets the road of life. Not only is Scouting preventive maintenance on our society, it is the construction of Celestial Beings from the raw material of young boys.
This testimony I bear in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.