Scouting has been an official part of the program for Mormon teenagers since 1913. Thomas S. Monson achieved the rank of Life Scout as a teenager and has been actively involved in Scouting leadership all his adult life. Following are some of his favorite Scouting stories.
In October 1992, nine-year-old Jared Barney passed away as a result of brain cancer. He had, in his short life, endured multiple surgeries, along with radiation and chemotherapy treatments. His last surgery was August 9, 1992. A month after that, an MRI picked up six new tumors, two of which were already quite large.
The radiation and chemotherapy made Jared very ill. The surgeries were difficult, but he always bounced back very quickly. Although he suffered much pain, the Lord blessed and sustained him.
Jared had a special spirit that drew others to him. He never complained about how he felt or about having to be sick or about the treatments he had to have. When asked how he was doing, he always said, “Good,” no matter how he felt. He was ever known for his contagious smile. The Light of Christ was in his eyes.
May I quote from Jared’s mother, Olivia, who wrote concerning his last days: “Our many prayers were answered in behalf of our little son. We prayed that he would be able to walk, talk, and see until the end, and then that the Lord would take him quickly. He was able to do all of these things, and we are so thankful to the Lord for answering our prayers. Jared loved life so much, and we wanted him to be able to enjoy it fully until the end.
“Jared had earned some Cub Scout awards three weeks prior to his passing. He had earned his Bear badge, his Faith in God, a Gold Arrow Point, and two Silver Arrow Points. We know that he loved to get those awards. He was failing quickly, and he wouldn’t even let himself sleep until he could attend the pack meeting held on October 14, 1992, to achieve his awards. At the pack meeting, he raised his hand three times and told everyone how long he had waited for these awards and how happy he was to get them. When we returned home, he asked me to sew his badges on that very night. I did. Then he prayed that Heavenly Father would let him sleep because he was so tired. He said that three times. He went to sleep and never moved all night. From then on he slept most of the time until his passing.
“We buried him in his Cub Scout shirt with those long-awaited emblems sewn and pinned on the front. He had a beautiful service. Many were present, for he had made so many friends in the community through his example of courage and faith.”
Such was the influence of an inspired program in the life of a tiny boy and his family.
Thomas S. Monson, “The Upward Reach,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 47
Several years ago a group of men, leaders of Scouts, assembled in the mountains near Sacramento for Wood Badge training. This experience, where men camp out and live as do the Scouts they teach, is a most interesting one. They cook and then eat—burned eggs! They hike the rugged trails which age invariably makes more steep. They sleep on rocky ground. They gaze again at heaven’s galaxies.
This group provided its own reward. After days of being deprived, they feasted on a delicious meal prepared by a professional chef who joined them at the end of their endurance trail. Tired, hungry, a bit bruised after their renewal experience, one asked the chef why he was always smiling and why each year he returned at his own expense to cook the traditional meal for Scouting’s leaders in that area. He placed aside the skillet, wiped his hands on the white apron which graced his rotund figure, and told the men this experience. Dimitrious began:
“I was born and grew to boyhood in a small village in Greece. My life was a happy one until World War II. Then came the invasion and occupation of my country by the Nazis. The freedom-loving men of the village resented the invaders and engaged in acts of sabotage to show their resentment.
“One night, after the men had destroyed a hydroelectric dam, the villagers celebrated the achievement and then retired to their homes.”
Dimitrious continued: “Very early in the morning, as I lay upon my bed, I was awakened by the noise of many trucks entering the village. I heard the sound of soldiers’ boots, the rap at the door, and the command for every boy and man to assemble at once on the village square. I had time only to slip into my trousers, buckle my belt, and join the others. There, under the glaring lights of a dozen trucks, and before the muzzles of a hundred guns, we stood. The Nazis vented their wrath, told of the destruction of the dam, and announced a drastic penalty: every fifth man or boy was to be summarily shot. A sergeant made the fateful count, and the first group was designated and executed.”
Dimitrious spoke more deliberately to the Scouters as he said: “Then came the row in which I was standing. To my horror, I could see that I would be the final person designated for execution. The soldier stood before me, the angry headlights dimming my vision. He gazed intently at the buckle of my belt. It carried on it the Scout insignia. I had earned the belt buckle as a Boy Scout for knowing the Oath and the Law of Scouting. The tall soldier pointed at the belt buckle, then raised his right hand in the Scout sign. I shall never forget the words he spoke to me: ‘Run, boy, run!’ I ran. I lived. Today I serve Scouting, that boys may still dream dreams and live to fulfill them.” (As told by Peter W. Hummel.)
Dimitrious reached into his pocket and produced that same belt buckle. The emblem of Scouting still shone brightly. Not a word was spoken. Every man wept. A commitment to Scouting was renewed.
Thomas S. Monson, “‘Run, Boy, Run!’,” Ensign, Nov 1982, 19
A young holder of the Aaronic Priesthood, active in Scouting, summed up the truth of choosing, when at a board of review for his rank advancement to Star Scout, he answered the question of what Scouting was doing for him by saying, “It keeps me doing things I should and keeps me from doing things I shouldn’t.” He passed.
Thomas S. Monson, “In Harm’s Way,” Ensign, May 1998, 46
Brethren, if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight—that generation is the present generation.
A few years ago a Scouting skill saved a life—in my own family. My nephew’s son, eleven-year-old Craig Dearden, successfully completed his requirements for Scouting’s swimming award. His father beamed his approval, while mother tenderly placed an affectionate kiss. Little did those attending the court of honor realize the life-or-death impact of that award. Later that very afternoon, it was Craig who spotted a dark object at the deep end of the swimming pool. It was Craig who, without fear, plunged into the pool to investigate and brought to the surface his own little brother. Tiny Scott was so still, so blue, so lifeless. Recalling the life-saving procedures he had learned and practiced, Craig and others responded in the true tradition of Scouting. Suddenly there was a cry, breathing, movement, life. Is Scouting relevant? Ask a mother, a father, a family who know a Scouting skill saved a son and brother.
Thomas S. Monson, “‘Called to Serve’,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 46