2010 National Scout Jamboree: Scouts worship in sunny services
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
FORT A.P. Hill, VA.
The dew was still heavy when the first Scouts began arriving Sunday, Aug. 1, at a sprawling patch of grass near Subcamp 7 at the 2010 Boy Scout National Jamboree.
It was almost two hours before the morning outdoor sacrament service was to begin, but the sleepy-eyed boys and their leaders — all adorned in Class-A Scout uniforms — wanted to claim prime spots to hear an apostle's voice.
The hillside congregation had grown to more than 3,500 when Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve took his presiding seat on the makeshift podium. It would be a sacrament meeting, which was authorized by the First Presidency, that none of the LDS Scouts attending the quadrennial event would ever forget. More than 200 priests, teachers and deacons were enlisted to bless and pass the sacrament. Another 200 sang in the service's Aaronic Priesthood choir.
Prior to the meeting, Elder Hales shook hands with dozens of Scouts and offered a smile to countless more. His message was familiar to Jamboreers versed in the Scout Motto: Be Prepared.
"Scouting is a remarkable preparation," he said. "It's part of a preparatory process of being able to finish what you begin."
It's no coincidence, he added, that young Aaronic Priesthood holders are participating in Scouting and attending the Jamboree. "Seated here today are the future leaders — not only for our Church — but many of you will lead our nation. Many of you will be in the military, and many of you will serve communities."
The training a Scout receives can bless the lives of others. "You do not know when you will use the knowledge that you are gaining with each merit badge," declared Elder Hales. "You do not know when you will save someone's life because of a (lifesaving) merit badge you have earned."
The Church leader said he witnessed the value of Scout training while presiding over the England London Mission. "A number of my missionaries were able to apply what they learned in Scouting on their missions."
The motto of duty to God and country is one of an individual's greatest goals, the apostle affirmed. He added that service in the Aaronic Priesthood helps a young man prepare for the higher priesthood as he learns how to fulfill such duties and conduct his life. Elder Hales explained that "Be Prepared" means being in state of readiness, in mind and body, to one's duty. Part of the preparation comes by living the tenets of the Word of Wisdom. "The Word of Wisdom keeps us so we can have the ability to have our agency and to be in control."
A former fighter pilot, Elder Hales remembered the countless hours he and his fellow aviators spent preparing to instinctively react to potential flight disasters. "It's called a conditioned response — you do it automatically. You do it without thinking. That is the conditioned response that you need in your life so that when you are faced with a trying time or emergency, you know exactly what to do and how to do it."
Young men need to prepare a "conditioned response" when they are offered drugs or alcohol, he said; they need to know how to react when making moral decisions.
Elder Hales spoke of the value of being a good friend.
"A good friend is one that makes it easier for others to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life."
And how can one know if he or she is a good friend?
"I know I will never take someone else off that path. And I will remind myself and those I'm with what our goal is: to have eternal life; to be able to have the Spirit to be with us through obedience."
LDS Scouts, he added, are embarking on a pivotal preparation period when they will decide to serve missions and prepare for the next decade of marriage, Church service and career development. The pursuit of education should be a lifetime endeavor. "Will you become a lifelong learner? Will you learn from what you are doing in Scouting? This is the beginning of your learning. Never end your learning. Add to it."
Learning allows one to lift and strengthen others, he noted.
Elder Hales said Scouting opportunities such as earning merit badges can help young men of the Aaronic Priesthood discover God-given "gifts and talents that are unique to you."
Brother David L. Beck, the Young Men general president, offered brief remarks at the sacrament meeting. He looked out on the vast congregation of Scouts seated reverently on the hillside, saying, "We have the equivalent of two armies of Helaman here, and it's impressive."
He encouraged the young men to follow Elder Hales's council and spoke of a principle he had learned earlier from the apostle while serving as a mission president in Brazil. "[Elder Hales] taught about the obedience of Jesus Christ, who is our great Leader and Example and who we should be like as priesthood men."
Morning religious services were conducted by various faiths in open areas across Ft. A.P. Hill army base. Traditional Jamboree activities resumed in the afternoon. LDS Scouts were encouraged to spend the Sabbath fellowshipping and visiting the Church-sponsored Genealogy and Family Life merit badge tents. Brother Beck and his counselors in the Young Men general presidency — Brother Larry M. Gibson and Brother Adrian Ochoa — also hosted an evening fireside.