LDS Scouters help deliver report to U.S. Congress

A century ago, the United States Congress formally chartered the Boy Scouts of America. That charter requires the BSA to deliver to Congressional leaders an annual “Report to the Nation” highlighting the organization’s accomplishments, goals and activities over the past year.

A select group of Scouters hailing from a variety of backgrounds and ages recently delivered the Report to several key government officials — including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Of course, a good Scout “troop” is generally supported by experienced and caring advisors. Hosting the Scouts for this year’s “Report to the Nation” activities were Lyle and Toril Knight, a Latter-day Saint couple from Billings, Montana.

It’s believed to be the first time a Mormon couple served as “Report to the Nation” advisors. It was an honor, said Brother Knight, “to host some truly extraordinary young people.”

On March 1, President Obama welcomed Brother and Sister Knight and the Scouting contingent to the White House’s Oval Office. The president shook hands and spent a moment with each of his visitors. He asked where they were from and inquired about their Scouting accomplishments.

A scheduled 10-minute meeting in the Oval Office soon turned into a 25-minute discussion of Scouting. “The President was very gracious and free with his time,” said Brother Knight.

The Scouts also made presentations and courtesy calls to a veritable “Who’s Who” of American leadership — including Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

The Scouting contingent also attended Sunday religious services in the historic chapel of the United States Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis, Maryland. Brother Knight, a retired banker and a counselor in the Billings Montana Stake, said it was thrilling to meet top government leaders in the nation’s capital. But he added that he and Sister Knight’s most cherished moments were spent interacting with the Scouts. He began volunteering in Scouting over four decades ago when he was called as his ward’s Explorer advisor.

The Church enjoys a long and enduring partnership with Scouting. In 1913, the Church officially joined the BSA, becoming its first chartered organization. Since that time, legions of Latter-day Saints have participated in Scouting as Boy Scouts or volunteer Scout leaders.

Today, almost 30 percent of all Boy Scouts belong to LDS-sponsored troops. President Thomas S. Monson, meanwhile, has served on Scouting’s National Executive Board for more than four decades.

[email protected] @JNSwensen