It was a made-to-order day for thousands of Utah Scouts and Scouting enthusiasts.
Perfect weather graced the Scout-O-Rama Saturday, as more than 15,000 Scouts - Cub through Explorer - gathered at the Utah State Fairpark. Billed as the largest of its kind in the world, this year's event featured more than 800 booths, activities and demonstrations on display for the estimated 100,000 people who attended.Troop 925 of North Salt Lake had one of those booths. Composed mostly of Samoan boys, the booth featured Samoan artifacts and demonstrations by troop members.
"The Scout-O-Rama is great," said troop leader Duane Burnett. "It's good for the kids, because it gives them a chance to show things about their culture. It lets people see actual artifacts, dances and demonstrations from Samoa."
The troop also performed dances on stage, including a knife dance by member Tielu Brown, the defending world champion in fire knife dancing.
Burnett said although the troop is still new - this is its third year - Scouting is already a vital part of the boys' lives, benefiting them on a number of different levels.
"A lot of these kids or their parents grew up in the islands. So Scouting is a good way to assimilate their culture with Western culture. We're Samoan, but at the end of the week, we're all Boy Scouts.
"Also, it keeps them out of trouble. If they do the Scouting, instead of playing basketball every week like a lot of troops do, it will become their gang instead of the gangs on the streets. One time, one of my kids was asked what gang he belonged to - he looked kind of `tough,' you know - and he said `Troop 925, man.' That's what his gang was: Scouting. It was great."
Luther Elliss, grand marshall of the event and Detroit Lions defensive tackle, stopped by the booth to visit the boys, which Burnett said was the "highlight of their day."
Elliss' words carried a powerful punch for the troop: a fellow Samoan, Elliss said Scouting played a big role in helping him achieve his goals.
"Scouting is a foundation. It is the basis of who I am today. It's important, because it teaches service, and how to serve others. When we're selfish or self-absorbed, we don't get involved at all. We don't really get anywhere."
Elliss also volunteered his time to appear at Scout-O-Rama, preferring not to take money for "something I believe in."
"The Scout-O-Rama is a great event," Elliss said. "It's a great chance to see different things, do different things and meet lots of people."
Boyd Jensen, Scout-O-Rama vice-chairman, said the event's lasting popularity can be explained in large part because the program has done so well locally. He also said Utahns' "heavy emphasis on the family plays a big role, too."
Ron McBride, University of Utah football coach and visiting Scout-O-Rama dignitary, agreed.
"It's all about the community. I'm here to support the parents and what Scouting teaches the kids. I was a Scout myself, and my son was a Scout, so it's been a part of our lives for a long time."
Mostly, though, participants said it succeeds because it's fun, and it gives the Scouts a way to showcase what they've done and learned dur-ing the year.
"It's probably the greatest cohesive activity these Scouts have. This is the thing that brings Scouting together," Jensen said.
"It's just replete with so many different kinds of activities. It's an inducement for the scouts, because you take the abilities and talents of the different troops and bring them all together.
"It's just a beautiful way for these neat, neat kids to show what they can do."
The event also featured performances by the Jazz Dancers and the "Screaming Eagles" parachute team. Kim Peek, the man who inspired the film "Rain Man," also appeared to answer audience questions.