Courtesy of Nettie Francis
“Better than Disneyland” were the words used by one young girl to describe her week at Philmont Scout Ranch with her family.
For two weeks each summer, a week-long Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting is held at the ranch under the direction of the Young Men and Primary general presidencies with assistance from the LDS-BSA Relationships office. Stake leaders are invited to attend the course with their families. This year, the conference was held June 28-July 4 and July 5-11. Over 300 priesthood leaders from 151 stakes attended, with their combined family members totaling more than 1,100 participants.
“Scouting is a tool for preparing boys for the priesthood,” said Sister Rosemary Wixom, Primary general president. “The Scouting program and the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ help young men become strong priesthood men and fathers.”
Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president, presided at the conference. Faculty included the entire Primary and Young Men general presidencies, along with several board members, the LDS-BSA Relationships director and Church service missionaries.
“The purpose of these conferences is to train stake leaders in the functions of Scouting within the Aaronic Priesthood,” explained Brother Larry M. Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency. Helping young men to “learn, act, share” was a main focus of the conference.
“Applying the suffix ‘ing’ to learn, act and share makes those principles present, continuous and progressive,” taught Brother Beck. “Then we bring power to this week at Philmont, and participants extend that power to their stakes, quorums and families.”
Spouses and children may also attend the conference. The families sleep in “tent city,” participate in age-group activities and eat together in the cafeteria.
“Philmont is unique because of the sacrifice of the people who come here and the spirit they bring — a spirit of unity and love for the gospel of Jesus Christ,” explained Sister Wixom. “We celebrate the children and families, too, here at Philmont. Children thrive in the environment of Philmont and make friends from all over the country.” The children’s parade is a highlight of the week, where Primary children make and wear costumes and parade to music with the Primary presidency while parents cheer them on.
This year marked the 51st priesthood conference at Philmont. In 1963, a Mormon Leaders’ Conference was initiated by general Church leaders in an effort to help stake leaders fully understand the coordination of Scouting and priesthood functions. Fifty stake presidents and their families attended the first conference at Philmont Scout Ranch, which had visits from Elder Delbert L. Stapley and YMMIA Superintendent Carlos G. Smith. During subsequent years, Young Men and Primary general presidency members and board members have served as faculty. The conference has had several names including “Mormon Leaders’ Training Conference,” “Mormon Scouting Workshop Conference,” “Seminar on Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting” and the current title, “Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting.”
The Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch provides a unique and inspiring setting for the conference with both indoor classrooms, an assembly hall, plenty of beautiful, green lawn areas and a spacious outdoor campfire bowl. “Philmont is a place of revelation,” commented Brother Beck. “The outdoors provide an opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord.”