Almost 10,500 boy scouts, leaders and volunteers gathered for three days to celebrate 100 years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.
Fifty stakes from Wyoming, Boise and Southeast Idaho participated in the encampment, which was called Rise Up! 2013. Brian Porter, the director of sport service for the Grand Teton Council, which serves all the scouts in Eastern Idaho, said scout leaders have been planning the encampment since 2011.
According to Rise Up! 2013 website, unlike annual scout camps or high-adventure activities, the purpose of Rise Up! 2013 was to enjoy fun activities and grow spiritually instead of earning merit badges or making progress to become an Eagle Scout.
“One of the things that we’re doing here is to celebrate that partnership, but we hope that [the scouts] come away with is a great sense of Duty to God,” Porter said. “With the lowering of the missionary age and last week’s missionary fireside, the [mission] work is hastening, and that’s what we’re trying to get kids to realize.”
Porter said because the mission age changed in 2012, scout leaders had a chance to include new presentations to prepare the youth to serve missions.
“It gave us an opportunity to do some things in the [presentation] that were a little different,” Porter said. “They had 30 eagle scouts who also had mission calls present the colors and they had them put the flags and the rest of them come in front and make titles of liberty.”
Rise Up! 2013 [participants] also saw the introduction of the new Thomas S. Monson Award, which the Church revealed for the first time at this encampment. Porter said that only scouts at Rise Up! 2013 could earn the award.
According to the Thomas S. Monson Award pamphlet, scouts interested in earning the award during their stay had to complete a number of requirements, such as read the talk on scouting, “Run, Boy, Run,” by President Monson, visit with full-time missionaries at one of the three LDS Visitor Center tents at the encampment and visit the Family History Center that was set in the center of the encampment.
Once the requirements were completed, scouts met with a stake presidency member at the LDS Visitor Center tent to receive their award.
“We ask them a few questions about what was important to them, what they felt like was something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives about the award, and then something about their goals for their future,” said President Wade Gordon of the Iona Idaho Stake. “The biggest answer I’ve got from them is ‘It’s time to quit being a slacker.’”
Porter said that while the Thomas S. Monson Award was introduced exclusively at Rise Up! 2013, the Church will begin awarding it to all boy scouts that complete the requirements beginning at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.
The encampment was divided into three action centers, where students participated in activities such as BMX tracks, shotgun shooting, archery and rock climbing.
Scouts were also able to hear from special speakers David Beck, the young men general president of the Church, and Wayne Perry, the national president of the Boy Scouts of America, who spoke to the scouts during evening devotionals.
Beck said Rise Up! 2013 was the largest gathering Church affiliated scout troops in the U.S. this year.