Over 60 Scouting professionals and volunteers—from 13 councils across the nation—gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah, during April for the semi-annual LDS-BSA Relationships Seminar. Held each April and October, the three-day event coincides with the general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The LDS-BSA Relationships office hosts the seminar and invitees include council Key-3s and LDS-BSA Relationships committee members. Participants tour key Church facilities, hear from Church and Scouting leaders, and attend two sessions of the Church’s general conference.
“The purpose of the seminar is to give Scouters a vision of why and how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses Scouting. We want Church members and those of other faiths alike to understand how Scouting fulfills the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and strengthens young men,” explained Mark Francis, LDS-BSA Relationships director.
The opening event was a Thursday evening training session at the Church Office Building with Brother M. Joseph Brough, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency. Brother Brough’s comments set the tone for the weekend and were a nice introduction to the position and structure of the Church.
“It was the perfect springboard for a fantastic weekend,” recalled Rebecca Cook, stake Primary president from Kansas. “Brother Brough had a commanding presence about him that was calming and kind, but bold and unapologetic as he proclaimed the truths of the gospel.”
Attendees also had the chance to mingle that evening with key Scouting leaders including Tico Perez, national commissioner, and Charles Dahlquist, incoming national commissioner.
The first stop on Friday morning was a tour at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Attendees of non-LDS faiths met with MTC President Dean Burgess and learned more about the specific training young missionaries receive before going out into the world. President Burgess thanked the visitors for what they do in Scouting that specifically prepares young men to serve missions for the Church.
“It was impressive to see the bright, energetic young people at the MTC,” commented Mark Griffin, Scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council.
The group then traveled to Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City for more tours and explanations of the outreach work done by the Church. The afternoon was spent at the Family History Library. Participants also had time during the weekend to visit additional venues on Temple Square and watch Meet the Mormons.
Meals included visits and remarks from Young Men General President Stephen W. Owen, first counselor Douglas D. Holmes, and Primary general board member Erin Sanderson.Two special presentations were made during the Friday evening meal. One to Mac McIntire who has written 75 Mac’s Messages: blogs addressing Scouting in the Church for the LDS-BSA website.
“Mac’s words and insights have influenced and touched thousands of LDS Scouters,” commented Mark Francis.
A leather bound copy of Century of Honor: 100 Years of Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was presented to Mike Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive, and his wife, Lisa.
On Saturday the group attended the morning session of general conference in the Conference Center and the brethren attended the evening general priesthood meeting.
“The training in the seminar really gave me ideas to better our LDS-BSA Relationships committee,” commented David Moala, LDS-BSA Relationships chair from the San Francisco Bay Area Council. “It was well worth attending this event.”
“Participating in the seminar was a great venue to build relationships and strengthen service to our LDS Scouting program,” added Kent Downing, Pikes Peak Council Scout executive.
Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh has attended the seminar three times with his wife, Lisa. He commented, “The LDS-BSA Relationships seminar offers a unique opportunity to gain a richer understanding of the work done by the Church in outreach to communities around the world. The seminar provides Scouting professionals and volunteers one of the most inspirational experiences you will ever have in Scouting—not to be missed!”