Scouting ends but camping continues, so ‘learn to love it,’ Young Men general leaders say

Young men and leaders sit around a campfire. Even though many camps will be closed this summer due to COVID-19, through technology and other resources, there are still many opportunities and ways in which youth can gather. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Church-sponsored camping remains a valuable tool for Latter-day Saint youth to enjoy the outdoors while building gospel-centered relationships and learning key gospel principles. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Brother Stephen W. Owen, right, displays the new Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Camp Guide during the Face to Face event for Children and Youth on Nov. 17. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

For those who might have been wondering if young men will continue to camp with the discontinuation of Scouting, the answer is yes. So, don’t sell the camp trailer or give away the tents. 

One of the main components of the new Children and Youth program is service and activities, and camping and outdoor activities are an important part of that component, the Young Men general presidency said. 

During a Face to Face event on the new Children and Youth program on Nov. 17, Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men general president, announced that a camp guide for Aaronic Priesthood quorums has been released. 

“Campouts and outdoor activities are important. It’s up to you to decide how to make them work where you live,” Brother Owen said during the broadcast. Where circumstances allow, young men should hold one multiday camp per year. In addition, three to six other overnight activities are encouraged.

Read more: Elder Gong and general officers explain Children and Youth program during Face to Face event

The new camp guide is not about the logistics of camping, Brother Owen said during an interview with the Church News. It’s about applying three principles: “be with them, connect them with heaven, and let them lead.” 

The 39-page “Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Camp Guide: Patterns for Building Faith through Young Men Camps” is now available in English in Gospel Library and will be released in other languages soon. It is similar in format to the new Young Women Camp Guide released in March 2018.

“Internationally, there is not as much of a camping tradition as we have here in the United States,” said Brother Douglas D. Holmes, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency. “The Young Women have had camps, but in international areas without Scouting, the young men haven’t done much camping. This tool will be a great resource for holding Aaronic Priesthood quorum camps in those areas.” 

A section is included in the new guide about adapting camps to local circumstances. Other sections outline the purposes, principles and methods of planning camps, as well as ideas for camp activities and safety information. 

Brother M. Joseph Brough, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, said the camp guide is designed to foster a camping environment where young men can strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and build relationships.

As young men and their leaders sit around the campfire, share personal stories and talk about what matters most, those conversations will be remembered. “There is time for listening and pondering and moments for introspection that you don’t get anywhere else,” Brother Brough said.

Young men carry sticks during a camping trip. A new camp guide for Aaronic Priesthood quorums has been released.
Young men carry sticks during a camping trip. A new camp guide for Aaronic Priesthood quorums has been released. | Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Camping also creates an opportunity for “a course in leadership training,” said Brother Holmes, as adult leaders allow the quorum presidencies to plan and lead camps. 

“As camping puts young men in situations where they are away from home and family, it also becomes great mission preparation. They will gain strength from their memories of camping,” Brother Owen said. “And when you go out and camp, you have a sense of gratitude for the smallest things.”

When Brother Owen was on a campout as a young man, he remembers being on a mountain at 10,000 feet of elevation and experiencing a snowstorm. “I was not prepared,” he said. “But the pancake I ate the next morning was the best pancake I’ve ever eaten in my life — even though it was burned and doughy in the middle.”

For those who don’t like camping, “learn to love it,” Brother Brough said, because of what it can do for the young men.

Brother Owen added, “Camping is a valuable tool to help young men become deeply converted to the gospel and faithful missionaries.”

To find more resources for the Children and Youth program, visit

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