Scouting 'powerful tool' to build character

Scouting is a powerful tool that can strengthen the character of young men and the moral fabric of society, according to Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Elder Backman was the featured speaker at the Silver Beaver Awards ceremony of the Great Salt Lake Council of Boy Scouts of America March 19. The gathering was held at the Church-owned Bountiful Regional Center. Formerly Young Men general president, Elder Backman is a long-time supporter of Scouting who currently serves on the BSA National Advisory Council."I am grateful for a program that offers us so much in helping our youth develop positive character, set meaningful goals, achieve in their young lives, learn responsible behavior, serve their fellow men, and understand that there is a God," he emphasized.

Among the 56 people presented the Silver Beaver at the program was Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve. The award, initiated by BSA in 1932, is the highest honor bestowed by a local Scout council. Those eligible for nomination are registered Scouters with records of service to Scouting, church and the community.

Elder Backman also shared with the group events concerning the recent introduction of Scouting, of which he was a part, into the former Soviet Union in connection with the democratization of the USSR. He said arrangements were made with government leaders to introduce Scouting to selected young leaders, who were given "extensive training at world Scout headquarters in Geneva and hands-on experience in the Scout organizations of Europe. This was followed, and continues today, with training opportunities in their own cities.

"And it is working. We now see a growing cadre of trained leaders, an increasing number of youth taking part, a new depth of understanding of what Scouting is all about. They now repeat the universal Scout oath and law. They now practice the principles of Scouting as we know them. It will not take long for Scouting to have a real impact on the local society as those good people emerge as an important segment of the democratic world."

Elder Backman noted the importance of the values and goals espoused by Scouting and said its principles provide a "bulwark to guard our nation's freedom and provide a safety net for our youth and leaders as they take responsibility for their actions and develop a culture of character through their responsible behavior."

He concluded by paying tribute to the Silver Beaver recipients: "Standing as you do as representatives of this great movement, I salute you for your selfless service and for the marvelous influence you are on our youth. Who could ask for finer role models, for `greater heroes close by,' or for more dedicated, determined leaders to help chart the course for our youth to rich, productive lives. . . .

"May this award motivate you to provide even more excellent service for the cause of youth. They are our future." - Mike Cannon

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