Even after leading one of the world’s largest companies and serving as Secretary of State, Distinguished Eagle Scout Rex Tillerson has never strayed far from his Scouting roots.

In the latest example of his continued enthusiasm for the Scouting movement, the former CEO of ExxonMobil will participate in a fireside chat as part of Virtual Little Philmont 2021, a free event open to all members of the Scouting family.

Tillerson, who served as BSA national president from 2010 to 2012, will open the event on Friday, May 21, with an inspiring message about the importance of religion in Scouting.

On Saturday, May 22, the event will continue with presentations about continuing the forward momentum of Scouting, including conversations about:

  • Recruiting Scouting families in a post-pandemic world
  • Ideas for encouraging Scouts to contribute even after earning Eagle
  • Using the aims and methods of Scouting and the whole Scouting program to strengthen youth and accomplish our shared mission
  • Harnessing the power of digital tools and social media to communicate and enhance your Scouting program
Rex Tillerson speaks at the BSA’s 2012 Top Hands meeting. (BSA file photo)

Virtual Little Philmont: What, who, when and how to register

What: Virtual Little Philmont, an opportunity to strengthen your Scouting program. The event is presented by the Vanguard International Scouting Association, which provides support to local councils in encouraging local Latter-day Saint youth, adults and families to get involved in Scouting. (Learn much more about Vanguard Scouting below.)

Who: The event is open to all Scouting families, including those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When: May 21 and 22

  • Friday, May 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time
  • Saturday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to noon Mountain Time

How to register: Use this link to register for the virtual meeting, which will be held via Zoom

How much: The event is free

Charles Dahlquist is a devoted Scouting volunteer and Silver Buffalo Award recipient. He served as the BSA’s 10th national commissioner. (BSA file photo)

What is the Vanguard International Scouting Association?

On Jan. 1, 2020, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discontinued its role as a BSA chartered organization.

When that formal relationship ended, there were thousands of Latter-day Saints who wished to continue participating in Scouting, and the Church encouraged them to do so by joining or forming Scout units within their communities.

“Therefore, as with other denominations participating in Scouting, Latter-day Saints continuing their Scouting involvement needed an independent organization to support their efforts in Scouting, domestically and internationally,” says Charles Dahlquist, international commissioner of Vanguard Scouting.

Prior to his current role, Dahlquist served for two years as the BSA’s national commissioner — a position first held by Daniel Carter Beard, one of the founders of Scouting in the U.S.

Scouts from Troop 42 enjoy a bike ride in Utah. (Courtesy of Russell Stevens)

What are the goals of Vanguard Scouting?

Dahlquist says that the Vanguard International Scouting Association aims to, among other things:

  1. Serve as a liaison between Latter-day Saint Scouts and Scouters and the BSA, other national Scout organizations and the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
  2. Encourage members of the Church to join Scouting.
  3. Develop BSA religious awards to help Latter-day Saints (Scouts and adult leaders) practice their duty to God.
  4. Represent Latter-day Saint Scouters on the BSA Religious Relationships Task Force and other BSA committees.
  5. Represent Latter-day Saints at National Jamborees, World Scout Jamborees and other Scouting events by hosting exhibits, sponsoring events, providing chaplain services and more.
  6. Provide a forum to help Latter-day Saint Scouters around the world connect and share their Scouting successes.
  7. Continue to build bridges of friendship, fellowship and faith with Scouts from all different backgrounds and denominations around the world.
  8. Sponsor annual conferences for Latter-day Saint Scouters at Philmont Scout Ranch.
  9. Work with the BSA to develop marketing and recruiting materials to help grow Scouting among members of the Church.

What’s the significance of the name?

To understand the importance of the name Vanguard Scouting, you have to go back to the BSA’s beginning.

In 1913, three years after the BSA was formed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the BSA’s first chartered partner.

In 1928, the Church adopted Scouting as its official activity program for younger boys. It also announced the Vanguard Program for boys who were 15 to 18.

The older-boy program was designed as a way to retain these teenagers once “the first novelty of Scouting has worn off, and they crave something new,” in the words of Church President George Albert Smith.

Five years after Vanguard began, the BSA asked to use the Vanguard Program as the basis for its own older-youth Scouting program.

The BSA called this program Explorer Scouts. In 1935, in a special ceremony held in Salt Lake City, all Vanguards were welcomed into the BSA as Explorer Scouts.

In the decades since, the name “Vanguard” has not been used in the Church in any formal way.

“Therefore, it became a natural for the name of this new, independent organization serving the needs of Latter-day Saint Scouts, registered leaders and Scouting families,” Dahlquist says.

A leader’s vision for the future

In the song “My Shot” from the musical “Hamilton,” John Laurens says of the title character: “Let’s get this guy in front of a crowd.”

The same could be said about Dahlquist, a gifted orator who can captivate crowds large and small — whether the average age is 8 or 80.

So it only feels appropriate to end this post with a few words from Dahlquist about his vision for Scouting’s present and future:

As we look around at our world today, I think that never in our history has there been a greater need for the timeless values and life skills that are an inherent part of Scouting than today.

We need youth and adults who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent; who understand and do their duty to God and their country; and who are focused on identifying things to be done to make the world around them a better place and then digging in and doing a good turn daily to do just that – make their world and communities and families better.

If a family is looking for a program for their youth that builds character, fitness and citizenship; prepares them for life; and gets them outdoors – Scouting is for them!

If parents are looking for things for their youth to do to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, Scouting is the place!

If parents are looking for opportunities to get their children (boys AND girls) out of the house and away from their electronic media, Scouting is the answer!

And, if parents are looking for a program that will provide not only a fun, exciting, character-based leadership experience for their youth, but also a place for them, as parents, to get involved in fun ways with their youth, Scouting is the place!

Learn more at VanguardScouting.org.

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