LDS Scouts at Jamboree
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MOUNT HOPE, W. VA.
Counted among the 40,000 folks attending the 2013 National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia are some 4,000 Latter-day Saint Scouts, their leaders and dozens of volunteers. Their participation continues the long-established association between the Church and Scouting's largest national encampment.
Once again, the Church enjoys a prominent presence at Jamboree.
"Our young men here are having an outstanding time — there's great excitement," said Brother Larry M. Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency and a veteran of national Jamborees.
The 2013 National Scout Jamboree commenced on July 15 and will run through July 24. For the first time, the event is being staged on the sprawling Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.
Latter-day Saints and their fellow Scouts are enjoying a variety of outdoor activities that include more than six miles of zip line challenge courses, 36 miles of mountain bike trails, 13 acres of shooting sports, along with kayaking, rock climbing and skateboarding.
"Since the ground-breaking (of the reserve) in 2010, a wonderful transformation has taken place at this Scouting venue in the beautiful hills of West Virginia, with more than 1,000 West Virginians helping with construction efforts," said Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America and a Church member.
Many boys and their leaders at the Jamboree are catching their breath between activities by stopping by the Church-sponsored tent at the event's Faith and Belief Center. Visitors to the LDS tent learn about the basic beliefs of the restored gospel and are introduced to the For the Strength of Youth and Duty to God programs. Placed prominently inside the LDS tent is a reproduction of the familiar "Christus" statue.
"We want visitors to recognize that we are a Christian Church," said Brother Gibson. "I don't think you can find a better opportunity than at the Jamboree to share the gospel of Jesus Christ."
The Church is also sponsoring a pair of tents where Scouts can earn the Genealogy and Family Life merit badges.
Visitors can also utilize FamilySearch to learn more about their own ancestry and personal history. About 400 LDS volunteers are on hand to staff the various tents, including several from the Family History Department headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Scouts of all backgrounds at Jamboree are also being challenged to earn the Thomas S. Monson Award. The award offers Scouts an opportunity to learn more about the service-driven life of President Monson — even as they set service goals in their own lives.
Twenty-one member volunteers are also functioning as LDS chaplains, tending to the shepherding needs of the legions of Latter-day Saint Scouts. The chaplains administer priesthood blessings when needed. They are also on call, 24-7, to counsel with a homesick boy or offer spiritual and practical guidance.
The entire LDS contingent at Jamboree is anticipating the arrival of Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve, who is scheduled to preside over a massive outdoor sacrament meeting on July 21. A special "family home evening" is also scheduled for Monday, July 22.