These Scouts Read Scriptures

    “These Scouts Read Scriptures,” Ensign, Mar. 1981, 35

    These Scouts Read Scriptures

    When the speaker told how he and his wife had challenged each other to read the scriptures and, as a result, had read them regularly, I thought, “That’s what I need.”

    I challenged my eleven-year-old son, Jimmy, to a reading contest. “That sounds boring,” he responded.

    So I tried another approach. I was teaching him and thirteen others in a Sunday School class and I simply extended the challenge to them all. They had always liked racing to find scriptures and loved any kind of contest. This was no exception. We discussed the rules enthusiastically and made revisions until all were satisfied. These were the rules:

    If they read one verse a day, they got one point. If they read two or more, they got two points. If they forgot to read on a day, they couldn’t make it up. (This way, I hoped, they’d get in the habit of picking up their scriptures every day.) Each Sunday in class they would report the number of points they had earned. When they got 100 points I would give them a treat.

    “What if someone cheats?” Jerry asked.

    “That’s between them and Heavenly Father,” I said. “I’m going to trust you.”

    The next Sunday was stake conference. The Sunday afterwards was general conference. The following Sunday as I prepared the chart to record the points, I was gloomily sure that most of them would have forgotten. I’d reminded Jimmy once or twice and any of the other kids I’d seen, but I wasn’t optimistic.

    When we got to class, Matt asked, “How many points do you get if you’ve read every day?”

    “Every day?” I exclaimed.

    “Of course,” he replied.

    “I read every day too,” Aram said. “Me too,” came from Sue.

    Out of fourteen students, seven had read every day. Only two had forgotten entirely. I was delighted and told them how proud I was of them. The two who’d forgotten were somewhat comforted with their two points from the scriptures we read in class and vowed they wouldn’t forget again.

    Eight weeks later, Matt, Aram, Sue, Fred, and Lee reminded me about their treats. As I passed out five crunchy cookies apiece in a sandwich bag, interest accelerated.

    The teacher of one of their school classes was giving additional credit for each page of outside reading. When I contacted her, she enthusiastically agreed to count scriptural pages.

    By that summer, all of my boys had turned twelve and had gone into Mutual, where my husband Ray was the scoutmaster. Scout camp that year was a backpacking trip to the high Uinta Mountains of northern Utah. Since they would have to hike in several miles and carry all of their gear and food for the five days, they planned meals using dehydrated food, appraised their clothing needs carefully, and hunted up lightweight cooking gear.

    The next Sunday in class I was surprised to see all of the Scouts mark that they’d read their scriptures every day. We learned that Andy and Jim had found tiny editions of the New Testament, and Aram and Denise had found miniature copies of the Book of Mormon. Others had taken their regular scriptures with them. Two who had forgotten suffered some teasing but were allowed to borrow copies to keep up on their reading.

    When Sunday School drew to a close, Matt Robinson and Aram Arslanian had read every single day. Aram, Lee Shetton, and Fred Paulson had read through the entire Book of Mormon. Ten had read regularly, and all had read some.

    How did I do? Well, I’d missed some days, but the baby I had that year can truthfully say that he heard the Book of Mormon read aloud from cover to cover in the first year of his life.

    • Velene McFadden Chatwin, mother of eight children, is activities chairman in her Murray, Utah, ward.

    Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten