Shaking hands across the border is nothing new for the people of Canada and the United States, and on Aug. 26 some of that international relationship building took place between Church leaders and Canadian Scout leaders.
Top leaders from Scouts Canada visited Salt Lake City to confer with Church leaders and strengthen the relationship that has existed between the two organizations for about 80 years. "Although 1915 was the `official' year in which LDS groups were affiliated with Scouts Canada, we have evidence in Alberta of Mormons having joined Scouting in Canada as early as 1911," said John C. Pettifer, Scouts Canada's Chief Scout for the past two years.Accompanying him on the visit to Salt Lake City were Warren McMeekin, director of volunteer services; Leigh Cotterill, president of the Alberta Provincial Council; and Elder Ellis G. Stonehocker, regional representative and the Church's official liaison to Scouts Canada.
Meeting with the Scouters for a working luncheon on the 26th floor of the Church Office Building were President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Jack H Goaslind, Young Men general president; Elder Ted E. Brewerton, president of the North America Northwest Area; Elder James M. Paramore, president of the North America Central Area; Betty Jo N. Jepsen, first counselor in the Primary general presidency; and Mark Hurst, administrative assistant to the Young Men general presidency and secretary to the Church's General Scouting Committee.
The group considered a wide variety of topics important to the relationship between the Church and Scouts Canada, and had a very positive, unifying discussion. President Monson spoke of the progress of Scouting in Canada and other nations of the world and mentioned conjoint jamborees between Canadian and American LDS Scouts where concentration of members is greatest, as well as participation in international jamborees and world conferences of the Scouting movement.
Elder Goaslind added, "Scouts Canada registers nearly 12,500 LDS young men throughout Canada, comprising nearly 250 Scout groups. We have enjoyed a very healthy association with our Canadian Scouting friends, and feel keenly the need to strengthen and reinforce that working relationship."
As Church membership in Canada grows, so grows involvement and participation in Scouting. Both the Church and Scouts Canada are hopeful and positive about the future of the relationship, said Elder Goaslind. Participants in this most recent meeting agreed that one of the most healthy outcomes of their sessions was taking more time to learn how each organization functions, and how they can complement each other and work toward common goals of strengthening and blessing the lives of young people.