Love for Scout program led to lifelong service by President Benson

Years of commitment to Scouting and a strong belief in the importance of the program culminated for President Ezra Taft Benson when he received the Bronze Wolf award, the only international award given by the World Scouting Bureau, on April 1, 1989.

Reading the citation that accompanied the award in the priesthood session of general conference, Eugene F. Reid, World Scouting Program Executive Committee member, said, "He has served with distinction on the National Executive Committee, National Executive Board and National Council's International Committee of the Boy Scouts of America."As President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson has exerted vast influence on the Church's strong support of Scouting throughout the world."

The award, given for President Benson's service to Scouting in the United States and around the world, was the last of Scouting's top awards earned by the Church leader who started out as an assistant Scoutmaster. He was also given the Silver Beaver (1961), the highest award given by a local Scout council; the Silver Antelope (1951), the highest award given by a BSA region; and the Silver Buffalo (1954), the highest award given by the National Council.

He began a life of leadership in Scouting when he was called as assistant Scoutmaster in 1918, eight years after Scouting was organized in the United States. He later became Scoutmaster for the troop of 24 boys in Idaho's Whitney Ward.

In 1930 he became Scout commissioner for his Idaho area, representing the National Council for three years.

Soon after he was called to be an apostle in 1943, he was named to the BSA National Committee on Rural Scouting. In 1949, he was elected to the BSA National Executive Board and he was also a member of the National Council's International Committee. He was serving on the National Advisory Council at the time of his death.

He served for several years as president of the BSA's Region 12 and was chairman of the committee to raise funds for the building of a Scout headquarters building in Salt Lake City.

He attended an encampment of Boy Scouts yearly and often spent hours shaking hands with the young men.

Even though his health was failing, President Benson was able to accompany President Thomas S. Monson, his second counselor in the First Presidency, to the opening of the world's largest Scout-O-Rama in Salt Lake City on March 3, 1990.

In his book So Shall Ye Reap (p. 138), President Benson expressed his feeling about Scouting: "I would to God that every boy of Boy Scout age in America could have the benefits and the blessings of the great Boy Scout program. It is truly a noble program; it is a builder of character, not only in the boys, but also in the men who provide the leadership. I have often said that Scouting is essentially a spiritual program, a builder of men. It is established, as is our government and its Constitution, upon a deeply spiritual foundation."

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