SMITHFIELD – There are few organizations that teach what the Boy Scouts of America have taught boys and young men for over 100 years. Valuable outdoor skills such as camping, orienteering, fire building, cooking, hiking, first aid and lifesaving skills touted as character building activities for boys are not taught by many other organizations.
Justin Clawson is an Assistant Scoutmaster to Troop 123 in Smithfield. He earned his Eagle Scout Award when he was 14. He has two boys, Kyler, 7 and Braydon, 11, both involved in Scouts. Clawson is a Legacy Scouter and wants to keep up the tradition with his boys.
“My father and uncles were all Eagle Scouts and all but one of my brothers were Eagle Scouts,” he said. “I’m going to be awarded the Silver Beaver Award and my father was awarded the Silver Beaver Award.”
The Silver Beaver award recognizes someone who has distinguished themselves as a scout leader.
“Our troop has 29 members with boys from 11 years-old to boys trying to finish their Eagle in six months,” Clawson said. “We have five patrols and the young scouts look up to the older boys. They are not divided by age groups, they all meet and go camping together.”
Even the boys’ mother is involved as a Cub Scout leader.
Smithfield mayor, Jeff Barnes, is on the scout committee and has always been a Scout Master, wherever he lived.
“I was a Scoutmaster when I was 18 years-old when I lived in Salt Lake,” Barnes said. “Jonathan Badger was one of my scouts and we approached him about sponsoring the troop. So Lee’s is our sponsor.”
As mayor, he and others approached the Smithfield City Council and pitched the idea of letting the scouts meet in the Civic Center.
“They all thought it was a good idea,” he said. “It wasn’t long after that the Girl Scouts approached us and we gave them approval.”
Barnes said the organization teaches a lot of things besides values. It teaches leadership, responsibility, how to camp outdoors and other life skills.
Church is not the only place for boys and men to learn values.
“The 12 points of the Scout Law and Oath are goods things for boys to believe in,” he said. “Some of the scout leaders hold callings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and work with the young men.”
Allen Endicott, the Trapper Trails Council executive, said scouting is starting to rebound in the Trapper Trails Council, as well as other places after the church left the program.
“There are lot of good things in this world; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other churches are good,” he said. “There are many good things kids can be involved in. Scouting, sports, 4-H and other things can all be good things.”
Children and teens can have time with adults and have positive meaningful experiences. The most important thing to do is give children opportunities, he added.
“I’m a big proponent of choice,” he said. “The LDS Church teaches their people to make good choices. You can do the new youth program and have a positive experience. Other churches have programs that give kids positive experiences.”
Activities like Pinewood Derbies are not just about making a car. It gives youth an opportunity to spend time with role models. It could be a father, grandparent or guardian. It is an opportunity to develop relationships, the scout leader said.
“By working with adults on a common project, it gives kids or teens a chance to get to know there is someone in the world that cares about them,” Endicott said. “It is all about the process of the youth learning new skills that will help them with the rest of their life.”
He sees Boy Scouts of America as supporting the youth programs of the Latter-day Saint Church.
“There are skills that scouts learn that they can learn nowhere else that will help them the rest of their life,” he said. “If someone wants to do sports, they also learn skills they can use the rest of their life.”
With merit badges, scouts work with adults. They interview with other adults, it is more about the process.
“Part of the new church program is to set goals,” he said. “One of the goals could be working towards being an Eagle Scout or Arrow of Light and those would be good goals for someone to choose.
“Last year we started 18 units in the Cache Valley and there are a lot of troops in the process. So scouting is growing in the valley. There are 132 BSA troops in the district right now and we keep growing.
“We have Legacy Families that are keeping the organization alive,” Endicott said, “families who went through the Boy Scout organization and feel like there is still a place for character-building skills.”