Years from now, young Aaronic Priesthood holders who participated in the ongoing 2010 National Scout Jamboree will certainly recall their 10 days of fun and adventure in sweltering Virginia.
They'll probably smile as they remember the patch trading, serpentine food lines and live shows. Maybe a few will attribute their interest in, say, scuba diving or rock climbing to what they first learned at Jamboree. And some will plan for the day when they can return to the Jamboree with their own sons.
More likely, however, their most lasting memories will be the commitments they've made — those spiritual challenges that transcend patches and merit badges and outdoor fun. LDS Scouts here at Jamboree are, yes, pledging to "Do a good turn daily." But they're also committing to serve God and their fellow Scouts and men. Many have accepted a leader's challenge to serve a mission. They are being asked to offer their testimonies with fellow Jamboreers and share copies of the Book of Mormon.
This year's edition of the quadrennial National Jamboree, which runs through Aug. 4, has much to offer LDS Scouts. There is a prominent Church presence, providing Scouts of all backgrounds opportunities to learn of the mission of the restored gospel, meet general Church youth leaders and connect with their ancestors across generations.
Brother Larry Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, has greeted LDS Scouts and their friends by the thousands while at Jamboree. He's convinced the young men here will return to their homes better equipped to serve as priesthood men and future missionaries.
LDS Scouts, he added, can realize three other benefits from the National Jamboree. "First, they get the experience of being away from home. Second, the Jamboree allows them to integrate with young men of every faith. And third, they learn they can be an example, a shining light to the world."
As he and other leaders mingle with LDS Scouts and speak at campsite firesides, they encourage the young men to make the most of the recently revised Duty to God program and prepare now for their fast-approaching missions.
Scouts of all backgrounds have also been lining up at Church-sponsored tents to earn the George Albert Smith Award, which was introduced at the Jamboree. All award candidates are required to learn about the Scouting lessons of President Smith. LDS Scouts are also required to speak to their leaders about how the Jamboree is helping prepare them for missionary service.
Award electives include challenges to meet Scouts from different states or countries, to share two articles of faith and their testimony with another and to read and record their feelings about President Thomas S. Monson's Scout-themed address, "Run, Boy, Run." The title is taken from the closing lines of the musical "Camelot." King Arthur's Round Table has been destroyed by the jealousies of men, the infidelity of a queen and mistakes of the past. The king and his forces are preparing to meet the armies of Lancelot. Tom, a young boy of Warwick, stows away to help the king, revealing his desire to become a knight. Tom declares his knowledge of the Round Table, repeating the familiar goals, "Might for right! Right for right! Justice for all!" Arthur formally knights him as "Sir Tom of Warwick." Commissioned to depart the battlefield, to return to England, to renew the dream of Camelot, to grow up and to grow old, Sir Tom places aside the weapons of war; and armed with the tenets of truth, he hears his monarch command, "Run, boy, run!" A boy had been spared, an idea safeguarded, a hope renewed (See Ensign, Nov. 1982, p. 19.) (Ensign Article - “Run, Boy, Run!”)
The George Albert Smith Award has proven to be even more popular than Church youth leaders anticipated,
Boys by the thousands are also filing into the Genealogy and Family Life merit badge tents that are sponsored and staffed by the Church. Both tents are helping young men — many who are away from home for the first time — gain a better understanding and appreciation of their relatives, living and dead.
Gary Pack is taking some time from his full-time job with the Church's Family History Department to teach wave after wave of Scouts here about how they can discover their own past.
"Our challenge is to teach the boys that they have a personal history, that we all have stories," said Brother Pack.
The genealogy merit badge tent is one of the most popular stops because it's one of the few badges that can be earned, in full, while at the Jamboree. Family History Department workers and volunteers from nearby stakes staff the two merit badge tents.
Brother Pack said he is touched by the vast number of Jamboree volunteer staffers of all backgrounds who leave work and pay their own way to serve at the Jamboree.
"These are people who believe in the value of Scouting," he said.
Full-time missionaries from the Washington D.C. South Mission have also been familiar faces here, sharing copies of the Book of Mormon and encourage LDS Scouts to follow suit.
More than 4,000 LDS Scouts are believed to be participating in the National Jamboree. They look forward to Sunday's Aug. 1 outdoor sacrament service, which is expected to be presided over by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve.