To celebrate the partnership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the Boy Scouts of America, Mormon troops in the Sam Houston Area Council hosted a regional weekend camporee, one of the largest attended in its history, at Camp Bovay in Navasota, Texas.
Organized by the Klein Texas Stake, the motto was “100 years of good fun!” and was a tribute to the 100-year anniversary of the first charter between the LDS Church and the BSA.
“We had over 500 more Scouts register for the event than we’ve ever had before,” said Tom Kunz, counselor in the Klein Stake presidency and BSA supporter.
The event on Nov. 1-2 began with a bonfire opening ceremony that included keynote speaker Elder Daniel Jones, an Area Seventy. Elder Jones gave a historical perspective by using projected images of his personal lifetime experiences with Scouting, including a picture with his mother when he received his Eagle Scout award.
Elder Jones’ father died when he was 13 years old, and Scout leaders became surrogate fathers during his teen years.
In a fireside message, Elder Jones emphasized that Scouting represents the fundamental principles of the gospel and Jesus Christ’s teachings and character represent the ultimate example of what scouts should strive to become.
The morning of Saturday, Nov. 2, opened with a flag ceremony performed by scouts from the Parkway and Memorial Springs troops. The 1,100 camporee participants then sang the National Anthem, accompanied trumpet player Nathan Top.
“It was a beautiful morning and the sun was just up over the horizon,” Kunz said. “It was a magical moment as everything came together to honor this great country.”
Activities included training in wilderness survival, search and rescue, archery and team-building, along with obstacle courses.
A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter landed at the campground, and pilots allowed the boys to climb into the vehicle and answered Scouts’ questions.
Closing guest speaker was Texas Ranger Stephen Rayburn, who compared living the Scout law with being a Texas Ranger, including properly wearing the uniform and being a blessing in the community. He also emphasized behaving as respectful gentleman at all times, holding doors open for people, treating women with respect, being cheerful and serving whenever possible. Rayburn encouraged the boys to be leaders and to remember the true value of being courteous, kind and obedient.
Rayburn is an Eagle Scout, Scout volunteer and his own boys are Scouts.
Lloyd Stutz and Klein Stake Young Men and Primary presidencies planned the event, which Stutz called “the best camporee ever!”
“Each (area stake) came well prepared to challenge these young boys hour after hour,” Kunz said. “What makes for a good camporee is non-stop action and involvement by the boy. This camporee never stopped for even a moment.
“Overall, I could not have been happier with the level of planning, commitment and execution of this event. Everyone did exactly what they were assigned to do and they did it extremely well. Take 800 boys, 300 leaders and the best two days of weather of the year and you have the makings for an incredible, life-changing and never-to-be-forgotten celebration of 100 years of Scouting!”