Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Cub Scout Michael Heaton gives Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. his state of Scouting report Wednesday.

Utah had more boys, more merit badges, more food collected and a larger share of the nation's Boy Scouts in 2006, although fewer of Utah's Scouts attained the rank of Eagle last year than in 2005.

The Boy Scouts of America turns 97 on Friday, and like most birthdays, it's a time for reflection. So representatives from Utah's three councils trekked to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to report to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who is also an Eagle Scout, on the state of Scouting in Utah.

Huntsman heard from four boys in different stages of Scouting, who told him of the fun opportunities they've had. Michael Heaton, a Cub Scout, recently took third in the Pinewood Derby and plans to become an Eagle Scout like his four brothers. Ethan Lowe, a Scout from Spanish Fork, said he loves earning merit badges because there's a merit badge for everything.

"I love the outdoors and camping and being with my troop," he said.

"You'll make a good governor someday," Huntsman told him.

Aaron and Shaun Haslam, brothers from Mountain Green in Morgan County, spoke of the leadership experience and challenging experiences that Scouting offers.

Shaun Haslam said he likes winter camp-outs.

"What's the coldest it's gotten?" Huntsman asked.

"Fifteen below," Haslam said.

"So they should have a merit badge for insanity," Huntsman joked.

Scouting reaches out to boys to help them make ethical and moral decisions, said John Kirkham, president of the Trapper Trails Council, which includes boys from Kaysville northward. The organization runs a school-based program called Learning for Life, which helps children learn skills, such how to manage money, that they can use throughout their lives.

Nine-year-old Miriam Sanchez-Conejo told Huntsman she loves to learn how to manage money and how to save it. Her goal is to help her family save money so they can buy a home.

"We could use you in my office," Huntsman said, adding that it's budget time on Capitol Hill.

Huntsman reminisced with the group of parents, children and Scouting officials about his days as a Scout: earning the swimming and lifesaving merit badges in a frigid lake in New Hampshire and earning the now-defunct pulp and paper merit badge, for which his father was the counselor.

"He was hard on me," Huntsman said.

The governor said he is aware when Scouts earn the rank of Eagle because he writes a personal note to each Scout who does so in Utah.

"Every time I do that, it's a reminder of what young kids have done to achieve a level of greatness," Huntsman said.

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