Last weekend I traveled from Okinawa, Japan to Fukuoka, Japan to attend some church meetings. During our time in Fukuoka, President Spencer and Sister Jane Mack, mission leaders of the Japan Fukuoka Mission, hosted my family and me.
When we arrived at the mission home, the Mack’s gave us a tour. We walked into President Mack’s office and I immediately noticed three photos he had on his wall: one of the First Presidency, one of his priesthood lineage, and the third was a photo of him with his three sons, all in full Scouting uniforms.
I was surprised and delighted to learn that President Mack was a WoodBadge course director for the Utah National Parks Council years ago. All three of his sons attended the course. He had fond memories of Scouting and positive feelings for this wonderful youth organization.
During the weekend as we traveled together, President Mack and I had ample time to discuss Scouting and the benefits of the robust programs of the Boy Scouts of America. It was easy to relate the experiences young men had in Scouting with the preparation needed to be successful full-time missionaries. President Mack’s WoodBadge photo gave him and me an immediate and fast bond through Scouting adventures.
A few days later, I attended a Scout Camp with my wife and children on a United States Marine Base in Okinawa. At the camp, we were privileged to have Kinjo san, an Okinawan gentleman, with us during the week. He was a member of both the Boy Scouts of America and the Scout Association of Japan since his youth.
When Americans first established their military bases on Okinawa in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s; Japanese youth were invited to participate in the Boy Scouts of America. In fact, the Scout Handbook was translated into Japanese to assist these youth in their Scouting adventures.
Later, when Okinawa was returned to the Japanese, local youth participated in the Scout Association of Japan. Hence, there is still a small percentage of old-timers in Japan who participated in both Scouting organizations.
Kinjo-san was kind enough to teach the Pioneering Merit badge at our Scout camp. As a BSA First Class Scout, and with his high Japanese Scouting rank, he offered a wealth of knowledge to these wonderful youth.
As Mr. Kinjo and I exchanged Scouting stories and knot-tying knowledge, I was reminded again of the benefits of Scouting and the footprints that Scouting has left on multiple nations and people across the globe.
Finally, during our local week of camp, I was thrilled to watch youth learn Scouting skills and experience outdoor adventure. During this pandemic, I believe there is nothing safer and more beneficial than being outside and participating in rigorous activities. Vitamin D and Sunshine are known to reduce depression, apathy and dangerous side affects of constant social distancing. Scouting is at the forefront of keeping youth healthy and happy.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the number of Scouting footprints my family and I have discovered while living overseas. In our Church work, schoolwork, and social experiences, the visible effects of Scouting are prevalent footprints that can benefit youth and adults for generations to come.
What footprints of Scouting have you discovered in your path today?
-Mark R. Francis