Chief Scouter visits Church leaders

President Thomas S. Monson welcomed new Chief Scout Executive Jere B. Ratcliffe "into our hearts as well as to our headquarters" as the nation's highest Scouter paid a visit Jan. 28 to Salt Lake City to meet with the General Church Scouting Committee.

This February marks the 80th anniversary of the partnership between the Church and Boy Scouts of America.Mr. Ratcliffe succeeded Ben H. Love, who retired Feb. 1. He was accompanied to Church headquarters by C. Michael Hoover Jr., assistant Chief Scout Executive.

"Our devotion to Scouting continues undiminished," President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized while introducing the two men to the committee at the meeting in the Church Administration Building. "It's difficult to put into a few words one's feelings about Scouting. It is an intangible. It's more a feeling of the heart than an impression of the intellect. My intellect alone will not describe my love for Scouting."

Quoting former Church President George Albert Smith, President Monson said, " `Scouting is a God-inspired program for a given time, and this is the time.' " President Monson then added: "I would say today that I echo that sentiment. This Church continues its endorsement of Scouting and confidence in the leadership of Boy Scouts of America."

Mr. Ratcliffe expressed his pleasure at visiting Salt Lake City and commented on the shared objectives of the Church and the Boy Scouts of America relating to boys and young men.

"Our relationship with our charter partners is the backbone of Scouting," the Chief Scout Executive noted. "I think reflected in our partnership with the LDS Church is one of the finest examples of how that partnership can work, how Scouting can provide the kind of useful program that can be made effective in helping young people.

"We're both interested in the most precious asset that we have - our youth. That's why I wanted to come to Salt Lake City and visit with you, who are tremendous allies of Scouting. I'm confident we will continue the very positive relationship that has existed between the Church and Scouting for all these years."

He also related his feelings about the "magic" of Scouting, the ability of the program to instill positive values into the hearts and minds of young men of all faiths and to encourage their giving meaningful service.

"The number one reason I'm a part of Boy Scouts of America," he explained, "is to help instill values in young people that will help them become positive contributors in their community, family and church."

Mr. Ratcliffe concluded his comments to the General Church Scouting Committee by expressing his intent to uphold the basic constitution of Scouting, including the Scout Oath and Scout Law. "There's no transition in BSA to change from the basic positions of the organization. We will continue to fight in the courts and otherwise to keep those values intact."

He invited Church leaders responsible for Scouting to contact him with any of their concerns. "I am accessible and available. If you see how we can do something more effectively, or if we're doing something that's not understood, I want to hear about it."

Mr. Hoover also expressed his appreciation for the strength of the Church-BSA partnership. "As we move forward, it's great to have the relationship of each of you people gathered around this table, who are part of the decision-making process of Boy Scouts of America," he noted. "We're very appreciative of the help you give us in making sure we think through how best to serve the boys and young men in your wards. We continually look at how the program can be more effective, how we together can find the way to meet the needs of the young people in every Primary, in every priesthood group."

President Monson shared with the guests and committee members several of his fond remembrances of Scouting. He recalled receiving his first Scout uniform as a Christmas gift at age 12.

"I proudly wore that shirt with the letters BSA inscribed on it," he related. "What a lovely gift for a 12-year-old boy for Christmas. That uniform was part of a basic beginning, when values go deep within you that don't depart as you mature."

Reflecting on President Ezra Taft Benson's love of Scouting, President Monson said: "President Benson was a Scoutmaster and Scouter from the word go. He has set a great example for this Church."

Discussing a national promotional campaign for Scouting featuring individual pictures of prominent athletes, statesmen and entertainers proclaiming - "I'm a Scout" - President Monson commented, "Scouting is the common denominator in the life of each person featured."

In addition to President Monson and the members of the General Church Scouting Committee (see box on page 6), others attending the meeting included David McDougal of Church Hosting, and Kevin R. Watts and his 16-year-old son, Ryan. Ryan, pictured on this week's Church News cover, is a priest in the Cottonwood 14th Ward, Salt Lake Big Cottonwood Stake, who will be involved as a youth staff leader at the upcoming National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

Members of the General Church Scouting Committee were invited by President Monson to comment on the partnership and the program in general. Several did so, including Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Seventy, Young Men general president and committee chairman; and Sister Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president.

"In the last three years as I've associated with Scouting leaders at the national level, I believe I've met some of the finest individuals who I've had the chance to associate with anywhere," responded Elder Goaslind. "The thing I appreciate is that BSA in its relationship with the Church has one objective - devoting our energies in a cooperative way to make sure that every young man has the opportunities for growth and meaningful experiences I think the Lord wants him to have. We're very grateful to have you here."

Pres. Grassli expressed her appreciation for association with Scouters of all faiths, "wonderful men and women in this country who are committed to youth just as much as we are."

She added: "One of the things I've appreciated about the program is the nature of the partnership. I'm grateful that we are able to use the program in the way that best meets our needs. That kind of arrangement makes it so we can best use the program to positively affect the lives of the boys."

****Additional information

LDS youth, leaders registered in Scouting

Total boys and young men: 371,516

Adult leaders: 152,884

Total units: 25,904

CUB SCOUTS: 131,773

Cub packs: 7,324

BOY SCOUTS: 139,848

Scout troops: 7,984


Varsity teams: 5,760


Explorer posts: 4,835

General Church Scouting Committee

Purpose: The General Church Scouting Committee considers issues relative to the relationships between Scouting organizations and the Church. The committee recommends to Church leadership ways in which Scouting can appropriately supplement programs for Primary boys and Aaronic Priesthood young men.

Committee members: Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Seventy and Young Men general president, committee chairman; Elders Stephen D. Nadauld and L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy, counselors in the Young Men general presidency; Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president; Betty Jo N. Jepsen and Ruth B. Wright, counselors in the Primary general presidency; K. Hart Bullock, director of LDS Relationships for Boy Scouts of America. Mark Hurst, administrative assistant to the Young Men general presidency, serves as secretary to the committee.

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