Editor’s note: This post is part of a collaborative effort of Mormon bloggers who are reading and writing about General Conference talks. We’ve started with talks from 1971. The goal is to read and write weekly until we have read of the talks from prophets and apostles. If we keep up the pace we have started, we will have caught up by July 2029 with the April 2029 Conference! The other posts from this week’s reading, which focused on the Priesthood Session of the April 1971 General Conference, are at the bottom of the post. 


So far, one of the things that is fascinating me about this General Conference Odyssey project is how different my experience has been each time. Last week, it took me a while to settle on what to write about. This week, it took me all of about three minutes after I began reading the Priesthood Session talks (I started at the bottom of the list) to know what I wanted to write about.

I also started this project with a vision of what topics I’d feel most strongly posting about. But I have tried to stay open to whatever seems to “click” — and so far, what has grabbed my attention has surprised me more often than not. I am pretty sure I was pretty sure Boy Scouts would never be on my radar screen!

This week’s post will be simple because my experience engaging the material was simple. Just an hour or two before picking up my phone to start to read the talks, for some reason I was thinking about the Boy Scouts. More specifically, I was reflecting on why I choose to support Friends of Scouting, even though my son is no longer heavily involved in it (and even as some people choose not to support BSA).

It’s because I have long believed that the Church has stayed in the program as much for boys outside the Church as for those within it. (A recent Mormon Newsroom statement would seem to support that belief.)

In my brief moments when I was reflecting on my choice to support Friends of Scouting, I also imagined how grateful I’d be if my son were the one benefiting from the donations of other people. I also thought of my girls, of others’ daughters, too, and how often I think about the boys who will someday marry them.

Imagine my surprise when the first words I read from the Priesthood Session all but replicated the thoughts I had had about Boy Scouts.

Horace Mann, that great educator somewhere back in the time of Abraham Lincoln, told how he was the speaker at the dedication of a great boys’ school, and in his talk he said, “This school has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; but if this school is able to save one boy, it is worth all that it cost.” One of his friends came up to him at the close of the meeting and said, “You let your enthusiasm get away with you, didn’t you? You don’t mean what you said that if this school, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, were to save just one boy, it was worth all that it cost? You surely don’t mean that.”

Horace Mann looked at him and said, “Yes, my friend. It would be worth it if that one boy were my son; it would be worth it.”

I want you to know that it would be worth it if it were my grandson, or one of mine. It would be worth it if it were one of yours.

I want to be honest here. Even as I see the value of the program, I’ve never felt a personal connection with or passion for Boy Scouts. We are not outdoorsy people. I don’t do so well with lots of lists and requirements such as those that infuse the BSA program. My son chose not to get his Eagle for various reasons, not the least of which that the expectations for Eagle projects didn’t match his personality style (and his project idea was rejected) and he didn’t want to do a more “typical” project just to check it off a list (nor was I going to force it).

In short, I would be dishonest if I said I wasn’t relieved that we are essentially done with Scouts in our little family.

I share these confessions because all of this doesn’t change how I feel about donating to BSA. My feelings and my little family are, in a sense, beside the point when it comes to responding to a prophetic invitation to support BSA in the big picture. Again, I have long felt there was purpose in that prophetic vision.

So I would like to invite you, if you haven’t already, to consider donating to the BSA Friends of Scouting campaign. Rather than worry about the BSA leaders’ salaries, or why Mormon girls don’t camp and tie knots as much as boys (thank goodness, I say!), consider instead whose son out there you might help (maybe a fatherless boy, or an inner-city boy, or a shy boy who would never do anything on his own but with Scouts gets out of his shell). Consider all the nonprofits and cities and neighborhoods and natural preserves that have benefited from the service of Scouts. Consider even future generations who could be blessed because a boy was busy and involved with Scouting and learned some responsibility and leadership and stayed out of trouble.

I say three cheers for the BSA and all the good that has come of the 100-year-long relationship between it and the Church. Who knows how long that relationship will last, but while it does, I will continue to give my support through Friends of Scouting. I hope you will, too.

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Other posts from the General Conference Odyssey are below:

Love Fervently http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2015/12/15/love-fervently
Bites from the April 1971 Priesthood Session http://www.jrganymede.com/2015/12/14/bites-from-the-april-1971/
God’s Plan to Exalt His Children  http://michaelsthoughtsandideas.blogspot.com/2015/12/gods-plan-to-exalt-his-children-april.html
Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd https://symphonyofdissent.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/dear-to-the-heart-of-the-shepard/
Deep Down Inside Us There is Good http://goodgazette.blogspot.com/2015/12/deep-down-inside-us-there-is-good.html
Betty Friedan and Bishop Brown http://admin.patheos.com/blogs/soulandcity/2015/12/betty-friedan-and-bishop-brown/
 LDS Conference 1971 – Meetinghouse Libraries and UX for Gospel Learning http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/lds-conference-1971-meetinghouse-libraries-and-ux-for-gospel-learning/