Lives changed at Philmont camp

Scores of priesthood leaders from the United States and Canada gathered recently at Philmont — Scouting's premier high-adventure base — for a week of Scout and Aaronic Priesthood-themed training and support.

Each year, the New Mexico camp hosts thousands of Scouts and adult leaders, offering a level of training that is tough to match, said Charles W. Dahlquist, the Church's Young Men General President. The July 2-8 encampment for LDS leaders, he added, is certain to bless the lives of countless boys.

"Philmont is an almost Zion experience . . . it's life-changing," Brother Dahlquist said.

Philmont's influence is perhaps evident by its sheer reach. Leaders from many stakes participated, traveling from as far away as Canada, Hawaii, Alaska and Rhode Island.

Participants spent the week in training sessions, attending firesides directed by Church general leaders and gathering for Sunday worship.

"It was a great honor to have all three members of the Young Men General Presidency, all six members of the Young Men General Board and all three members of the Primary General Presidency," wrote Brad Allen of the Boy Scouts of America's LDS relations office in an e-mail to the Church News.

Highlights of the training sessions included Brother Dahlquist's presentation on helping young men have spiritual experiences and effective relationships with caring leaders. Recently called Primary General President Cheryl C. Lant offered a workshop on the Cub Scout and Faith in God programs. Other presentations focused on the role of families and the Church in Scouting; the priest/Venturing program; and direction on activities and financing youth Scouting programs.

The Primary General Presidency was also available for a question-and-answer session with priesthood leaders, while venerable Scouter Elder Robert L. Backman, an emeritus Seventy, joined his wife, Sister Janet Backman, for an adult fireside. Michael A. Neider of the Young Men General Presidency, along with his wife, Sister Rosemary Neider, conducted a youth fireside for young people gathered at Philmont.

The training session during the LDS encampment stretched beyond sound education, noted President David Brown, a counselor in the Meridian Idaho Stake presidency.

"The classes were informative, but also, more important, inspiring," he added.

For many priesthood leaders, the weeklong Philmont training provided a healthy jolt of new ideas.

"More ideas flowed than we were able to accomplish in a few years," wrote President Jeff Peterson, second counselor in the Roanoke Virginia Stake, in the survey.

For the past several years, the LDS leadership encampment at Philmont has been limited to one week a year. A second weeklong encampment will be added in 2006 to accommodate additional local priesthood leaders, Brother Dahlquist said.

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