MT. LEMMON – TUCSON“It was really cool.”
That was how one Boy Scout described the Jamboree last week in the mountain tops overlooking Tucson.
Over 400 boys, along with a few hundred scout leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Southern Arizona, enjoyed a week in the cool pines to celebrate 100 years of the Church’s association with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Besides the typical whittling of sticks and playing capture the flag that are expected with any week long Scout camp adventure, boys from seven stakes from Tucson to Sierra Vista, gathered at Camp Lawton, operated by the Boy Scouts’ Catalina Council. They worked on multiple merit badges for advancement, crossed miles of trails atop Mt. Lemmon, and some even braved the cold early morning “penguin swim.”
Different from other summer Scout camps, these young men were asked to add a spiritual side to their heavy merit badge load. They were expected to learn more about their Aaronic Priesthood duties, responsibilities at Church for 12 to 14 year old Deacons, 14 to 16 year old Teachers, and 16 to 18 year old Priests.
STAND IN HOLY PLACES
The spiritual journey began in a large white canvas tent staked down on the softball field at the Church run Camp Zion, next door to Camp Lawton. The tent served as a “tabernacle” like the one used in the Old Testament. Inside, the young men learned about the Aaronic Priesthood.
First, they saw Bishop Nelson Brown of the Tucson Rincon Stake dressed as Aaron when he was anointed by Moses in the tabernacle. Bishop Brown helped the boys understand their Aaronic Priesthood duties. He explained how the children of Israel were asked by the Lord to care for the tabernacle, prepare offerings, and fulfill other responsibilities.
Chris Hales of the Tucson North Stake continued the discussion. Dressed as a pioneer, he shared how those holding the priesthood helped the Mormon Pioneers cross the plains.
Finally, Bishop Ken Moeller and Bishop Kent Dalton, both of the Tucson North Stake, explained how the young men can magnify their priesthood callings. They invited them to prepare for their full time mission just two to six years away for the boys.
This modern tabernacle served as a focal point of spiritual learning for the scouts. Attending the presentation was one of five requirements to receive the “Stand in Holy Places” recognition award, a unique pin for this 100 year Jamboree celebration. The boys were invited to memorize scriptures and to understand their responsibilities, earn three merit badges, and complete one hour of service. With help from their adult leaders, hundreds of Boy Scouts completed 510 hours of service that improved the camp ground areas of both BSA Camp Lawton and LDS Camp Zion.
Inspired by Camp Director Que Hales, volunteers from each of the stakes erected an old west village looking back to 1913 when the Church adopted Scouting as the program for their young men. Scout leaders and counselors dressed up as cowboys and farm hands, and a troupe was brought in for a western gun fight show.
The village was centrally located for all scouts to work on merit badges. Huddled under donated Army tents and behind the wooden facade of the pre-built village called “Deaconville,” 2,300 full merit badges were earned during the five days at scout camp, with another 1,000 more to be completed later.
The combination of work, fun and games, together with an emphasis on spiritual needs is what Church leaders hope will become more common in Latter-day Saint Boy Scout troops. “the Quorum of the 12 Apostles want to see more Camps like this. Not so much as Jamboree’s, but campouts in general.”
Visiting from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, Mark J. Pendleton, a member of the Young Men General Board said, “the Quorum of the 12 Apostles want to see more Camps like this. Not so much as Jamboree’s, but campouts in general.” He said he was impressed with the thought and effort that went into this 100 year Boy Scout Jamboree.
Brother Pendleton was the keynote speaker at a fireside Friday night. He shared the story of the 2060 Stripling Warriors from the Book of Mormon and urged the young men to be like them. He encouraged the boys to invite their friends to join them in the Scouting and Young Men’s program.
A Jamboree like this won’t be expected for another 100 years making this past week’s Scout Camp a unique and unforgettable experience.
So memorable, that hundreds of boys are already looking back and saying, “That was really cool!”
Assistant Director of Public Affairs
Southern Arizona Public Affairs Council
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints