“Alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic!” shouted the crowd of leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) as they attended a Cub Scout training session Saturday, February 17, 2018. This event dubbed Little Philmont after the well-known Philmont Boy Scouts of America (BSA) training facility in New Mexico, was held at the church’s Klein chapel, 16535 Kleinwood Dr. in Spring, Texas.
“Over 300 LDS leaders registered from as far away as College Station, Orange and Bay City,” said Klein Stake Primary President LeOra Clements, a key organizer of the event. Twenty-two stakes, a geographic division in the LDS church containing 8-10 congregations, in the greater Houston area were invited. “It was originally planned for September 9, 2017, but due to Hurricane Harvey we helped our brothers and sisters in a different way at that time.”
The women and men that work with cub scouts ages 8-10 and 11-year-old boy scouts were treated to basic training fundamentals, as well as classes in Effective Leadership, Having Fun, Scoutbook essentials, and Understanding Challenging Scouts. Classes were taught by veteran scout leaders with years of experience.
Because of recent BSA policy changes there has been some public confusion over the relationship between the two groups. The official LDS position according to mormonnewsroom.org states “The church continues to look for ways to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual needs of young men around the world. The Church will continue to use the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys and young men ages 8 through 13. We…are grateful for out long-standing and continuing partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada.” The Boy Scout organization was founded in Britain by Robert Baden-Powell in 1908. The LDS church adopted the Boy Scout program in 1913 and the Cub Scout program in 1953.
Paul Crockett, High Councilor in the Klein Stake emphasized, “Scouting is a very important part of our Priesthood boys and their development in becoming men. It helps prepare them for things that we deem important for them, as being fathers, being good citizens and contributing to everyone around them.”
The guest speaker for the opening session was Stanley G. Ellis, an Emeritus General Authority for the LDS Church. Ellis returned to Houston from serving with the Church for 3 years in Africa in time to find his long-time home flooded from Hurricane Harvey. He encouraged leaders to have Scouts recite the basic truths found in the scout law, oath, motto and slogan as a vaccination and fortification against trials to come. “I became a scout at 12 years old. I finally earned the rank of Eagle Scout; my Dad was an Eagle Scout. We have 9 children, 5 are sons and they are all Eagle Scouts. So, we are very committed to the scouting program. I believe in scouting. Scouting supports us in our efforts to teach correct principles and to build a righteous generation,” Ellis said.
Brett Jones, High Councilor in the Tomball Stake is also an Assistant District Commissioner in the Phoenix District within the Sam Houston Area Council of the BSA, which covers 16 counties in southeast Texas. Jones explained that LDS leaders also join with the Sam Houston Area Council of the BSA for their ongoing trainings. “One-third of the packs in the Area Council are LDS. We have a lot of turnover within the LDS Scout leadership, so we offer this additional training that fits our organizational needs,” Jones added.
Attendee Lizbeth Martinez moved to Katy recently from Canada and is new to Scout leadership. The mother of 4 boys, she is eagerly looking forward to what they can learn from the Cub Scout program. “There is definitely a lot to it. I like the program and this training is definitely very helpful,” Martinez said.