By Mark Blackhurst, Circle 10 Council
On April 14 and 15, 2023, 150 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met at Camp James Ray (Circle Ten Council, BSA, Dallas, Tx) for an overnight family encampment. Many of those participating are currently active in either a Cub pack or Scouts BSA boy or girl troop. Others were there to learn about today’s Boy Scouts of America and how families of the Church can be completely involved in Scouting. They found that the Church’s Children and Youth program and Scouting are complementary and compatible.
The encampment began on Friday evening with a rousing campfire. The fire was lit as if by magic. All participated in the fun songs, watched funny skits, and heard sort-of-scary stories. The highlight of the evening was listening to remarks from Brother Charles W. Dahlquist, II, former Church Young Men General President, past National BSA Commissioner, and current president of the Vanguard International Scouting Association. He spoke of Scouting as a wonderful method to prepare young people to serve a mission and to be righteous adults who are disciples of Jesus Christ.
He encouraged all to earn the Light and Truth or Vanguard Duty to God awards. Doing so would be a very worthwhile testimony-building process. Following the singing of “Scout Vespers,” all enjoyed plenty of cracker barrel goodies.
Throughout the evening and the next day, a number of participants joined together for a service project. The encampment partnered with Letters Against Isolation. Youth and parents wrote letters of happiness and encouragement to residents of Twilight Home in Corsicana, Tx, and HarborChase Assisted Living in McKinney, Tx.
This service project was identified using the JustServe.org website. (Follow this link to learn how to find myriads of service opportunities.)
Saturday morning, we woke to a beautiful sunrise and the gobble of wild turkeys. After breakfast, the day officially began with a flag-raising ceremony.
Everyone immediately then went to the shooting sports ranges. All the youth and some of the adults were able to shoot .22 rifles or BB guns, bows and arrows, and throw tomahawks. It was joyful to hear some of the youth singing songs from last night’s campfire while waiting their turn to shoot.
The second activity of the morning, we all joined together for an interfaith service. The program included prayers from multiple faiths, an inspirational reading quoting Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a responsive reading of the Scout Oath linked to inspiring words from Carl Sagan, the New Testament, Aboriginal Australians, Too Te Ching, the Quran, and the second Gita. Brother Dahlquist closed the program with uplifting and encouraging words, to become the best that we can become.
The afternoon brought many more fun activities for everyone to enjoy. The events included:
- Rubber duck challenge
- Stomp rockets and water bottle rockets
- Crossing a monkey bridge
- Branding blocks of wood
- Two-person crosscut saw
- Fire building
- Lasso toss
- Gaga ball
- Ping Pong ball shooters
The day ended with awards for being the best at competitive events and retirement of the colors. Comments from many as we separated for home were, “Let’s do this again!”