On January 2nd, 2018 Thomas S. Monson, 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a 48-year member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, died in his home. He had a boundless influence on the Boy Scouts of America as a Scout, leader, and lifelong friend of Scouting. At his death, he was the longest-standing member of the National Executive Board.
Monson served in several adult Scouting leadership capacities before he became a national board member in 1969: merit badge counselor, member of the Canadian LDS Scouting Committee, chaplain at a Canadian Jamboree, and a member of the General Scouting Committee of the LDS Church. He was also an avid advocate of the Scouting for Food drive. He represented the Boy Scouts of America as a delegate to the World Conferences of Scouting in Tokyo, Nairobi, and Copenhagen.
President Monson received the highest awards from the Boy Scouts of America, as well as four honorary doctorate degrees. He received the Silver Beaver award in 1971 and Silver Buffalo award in 1978. In 1993 he also received the Bronze Wolf, the highest honor and only award of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. In connection with the LDS Church’s centennial celebration as a chartered partner, the BSA announced that the Leadership Excellence Complex, located at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia, would be renamed the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex saying:
In his assignments throughout the world as a leader of [the LDS Church], President Monson worked tirelessly to bring about the advancement of Scouting in many countries. He worked closely with the World Organization of the Scout Movement to find ways to strengthen the links between the Church and national Scout associations. He was a committed, solid, hard-working volunteer in the Scout Movement. His Scouting leadership was exemplary.
He was also awarded the Scouting’s Honor Medal in 2013 for saving the life of a girl who was drowning when he was 12 years old. The Salt Lake chapter of Rotary International honored Monson at its international convention with its Worldwide Humanitarian Award in 2008.
President Monson often shared the influence Scouting had on his life. In a speech to young men and their fathers and leaders, he shared some thoughts on the value of Scouting:
“In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout Law. Yes, an organization whose motto is ‘Be prepared’ and whose slogan is ‘Do a good turn daily.’…There comes a time in the life of every young man for serious contemplation and wise evaluation concerning his future—for decisions determine destiny.”
President Monson exemplified the Scout Oath. He devoted his life to doing his duty to God. Even before his involvement in LDS Church Leadership, much of his time was devoted to volunteering and teaching for the Church. In a video about his life, President Monson explained his attitude toward his duty to God:
“The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”
He also did his part in duty to his country. He served in the United States Naval Reserve during World War II. He also used his leadership positions to work with LDS welfare services to send relief to people in need throughout America, and the world.
A closer examination of Thomas S. Monson’s life will show he is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. He is a great example of how Scouting can not only benefit the individual but truly make a difference in the community and around the world as well. President Monson worked endlessly for others in hopes of making a small difference. He did his best to help others at all times.
As Scouters, we will miss Thomas S. Monson and are so grateful for the way he impacted the lives of thousands of youth.
Cover photo courtesy of Chance Hammock.