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South Jordan Journal

Scouting continues to influence young men, young women even when facing challenges

Oct 04, 2021 03:42PM ● By Rachel Aubrey

Scoutmaster Glen Thorne giving the Scoutmaster minute at a court of honor held at the beginning of September. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Chapple.)

By Rachel Aubrey| [email protected]

In late 2019, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made an announcement that it would no longer be a chartering organization for the Boy Scouts of America for the 11- to 17-year-old age range. Known for its emphasis on “duty to God, duty to country,” the BSA, now called Scouting BSA, still continues to meet locally.

Scouting for both young men and young women has continued to play a role in teaching young people the 12 values that are part of the Scout Oath and Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, brave, clean and revenant. 

“We are around,” said Bruce Chapple, a charter organization representative in troop 3851. “This is still a good organization, and we’re big into service.

Even while performing service, some troops have encountered challenges. The greatest of which has been locating a chartering organization, or a sponsor, and also a safe environment in which to hold weekly meetings. When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided it needed a more global and diverse program for ages 11 to 17, troops no longer had access to indoor and outdoor meeting spaces.

Troop 3851 in South Jordan is chartered by the Firefighter’s Union, which doesn’t have a physical location for the troop to meet in. This challenge is felt by Scoutmaster Glen Thorne, whose troop meets every Thursday, and has provided service back to the Firefighter’s Union, helping wash fire trucks when possible.

“The community doesn’t know how to support Scouting,” Thorne said.

Thorne admitted that ultimately, he wants to see the boys in his troop take care of each other and learn to follow the Scout Oath and Law. He hopes his troop will learn to become good citizens. 

“We want these kids to know how to make decisions in life that measure up to the Scout Oath and Law,” Thorne said.

For troop 1111 in South Jordan, however, security was found in their charter American Heritage School. Scoutmaster Clint Bennion, who began forming the troop in September 2019, had the good fortune of establishing a partnership with AHS after learning that school board members Elsha and Steve Yorgason had a former scout in their family. 

For Bennion, the challenge has not been places to meet but people to help. Without the adult support that once came from callings extended by the church to help guide the youth, it has been challenging at times finding adult leaders. However, Bennion admits that seeing the older youth step up and take on leadership roles and model that behavior for the younger Scouts, is what makes scouting so worthwhile.

“You want the youth to get that leadership experience,” Bennion said. “For the older boys [or girls] who have been doing this a while, they can become better leaders in the future.”

South Jordan resident Stephanie Johnson is a current Scout mom to son Brigham and past Scout mom to Eagle Scout Logan. She has seen firsthand how beneficial the scouting program has been for her sons. 

“I love the program,” Johnson said. “I love what it teaches the youth; these are values every human needs.”

Johnson acknowledged that Scouting has given her son and other young men a chance to be responsible for lots of aspects of Scouting, including planning activities, carrying out meetings and so forth. Johnson serves as troop treasurer as well as fundraiser chair for troop 3851.

While many feel that the decision to allow girls to participate in scouting is what led the church to withdraw from the Scouting BSA program, many current scouting leaders feel positively about the decision, many of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“If people took the time to understand, they would realize that this is a cool thing,” Bennion said.

Despite girls being allowed to join Scouting, Scouting BSA troops for ages 11 to 17 years are separated into boy led troops and girl-led troops; they are not co-ed the way the Venturing program is.

Nearby girl-led troop 7092 was formed in April 2019. Although listed in West Jordan, there are approximately 20 girls spanning from Magna to Herriman participating. The troop is chartered by the Flying Tigers Parents Association. 

Julie Bendixen is a committee member over advancement for the troop and also mother to 12-year-old daughter Sierra, who grew up with older brothers and witnessed them participating in scouting. Bendixen admitted her daughter would attend all scouting activities with her brothers, even participating in some merit badge certifications. She now can earn recognition and badges for her efforts.

Not just earning merit badges, the girl-led troops are held to the same standard of conduct (Scout Oath and Law) as the boy-led troops, which Bendixen said should not be gender specific.

“Why should only boys be taught these values?” Bendixen said.

Scoutmaster for troop 7092 Autumn Jennings said that despite having plenty of adult support, they too have faced the challenge of a place to meet often times using leader’s houses. Prior to COVID, the troop met at Summit Senior Center, providing a place to meet physically and plenty of opportunity to do service for the residents and the facility. 

Jennings, a Sandy resident, and her 12-year-old daughter Ellie, make the weekly trek across the valley to attend scouting meetings every Thursday. The troop also does a monthly campout as well as outdoor weekend activities when possible. For Ellie, the friendships, the outdoors and the activities have left quite an impression.

“I want my daughter to stay excited about scouting,” Jennings said.

During the month of September, troop 7092 spent time working towards an archery merit badge. The troop has also advanced three girls to date to the rank of Eagle.

To achieve the sought-after Eagle, a Scout must complete 21 merit badges, 13 of which must include:

  • first aid
  • citizenship in the community
  • citizenship in the nation
  • citizenship of the world 
  • communication
  • cooking
  • personal fitness
  • emergency preparedness
  • lifesaving
  • environmental science or sustainability
  • personal management
  • swimming or hiking or cycling
  • camping 
  • family life

In addition to earning merit badges, a Scout must be active in the troop for six months as a Life Scout, which is someone who lives the Scout Oath and Law in their everyday life and is recommended by someone who has observed their behavior. A project must also be completed, in which a potential Eagle Scout must plan, develop, and give leadership in the form of service to the community.

Johnson’s son Brigham chose to collect items to benefit the Forever Young Zone at Primary Children’s Hospital. Not only a project to get him to the rank of Eagle, Brigham has seen just how much good the hospital has done to help his own family. In the past four years, his two younger sisters have had eight surgeries between them.  He set a goal to collect 500 items by Sept. 30. 

“Our family has come to appreciate that facility very much and the work that they do there for children,” Johnson said.

To find a troop to join near you, visit https://beascout.scouting.org/, or for more information about opportunities to support Scouting, visit https://www.utahscouts.org/donatenow.