From boys to men

Region's LDS scouts rally at Camp Cowles

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Timberlake High School lead trumpet player Spencer St. Mars, 17, sounds the horn each morning for breakfast and each evening for dinner at the 'Catch the Vision' camp.

DIAMOND LAKE, Wash. - Activities stacked on top of activities, all intertwined with life lessons, set the stage for the "Catch the Vision" - a week-long encampment with more than 2,400 Boy Scouts that wrapped-up on Saturday.

With over 1,200 adult leaders on site as well, the encampment was the largest of its kind since a similar event at Farragut State Park in 1984.

Held at the Cowles Scout Reservation near Newport, Wash., the one-in-a-lifetime event hosted scouts from 18 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stakes spanning throughout the Northwest region.

Campers ages 11-18 came from areas including all over North Idaho, Eastern Washington and Western Montana to be among friends, build teamwork, learn life's lessons, handle difficult situations, and most importantly, to grow into well-rounded young men.

"The goal is to teach them to become good men," said Steve Gallafent, camp organizer and steering committee member, during a Friday tour. "One day this 12-year old will be a husband, a father, and our goal is to allow them to learn the skills now to know they are capable of handling any situation as an adult."

Church leaders also provide daily messages to the boys about their potential with the hopes of inspiring them to take a greater faith in God and Jesus Christ.

Before the encampment could even occur, infrastructure needed to be installed including a road, power, and a well, which was all donated by the LDS church and can now be utilized by Boy Scouts for decades to come.

Where were the Boy Scouts during this time of improvement and preparation for their upcoming camp?

On site and active - getting their hands dirty by clearing the area of debris, stumps and some trees back in May of 2011. Something each of the 2,200 scout leaders and scouts present during the clean-up could be proud of during their week at the camp known as 'Camp Sunrise'.

Also, each camper was sure to be grateful each night they climbed into their tent and sleeping bag to find a smooth sleeping surface free of rocks and other backaches waiting to happen.

Sleep soundly the boys did, being spent from a busy day of everything from a 'Ninja Warrior' style obstacle course, lumberjack activities, knots, fire building, First Aid, swimming, and every other activity that could earn a scout a merit badge.

Many are traditional activities of their father's time as a scout, with a new age twist thrown in here and there with a paintball bow and arrow, CO2 powered rocket (tennis ball) launcher, and even a mechanical bull to ride.

Each scout was free to roam from activity to activity between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., finding their way to each and stamping their progress with the use of personal passport.

One activity that definitely stood out was a handicap obstacle course, where each scout took turns navigating a ramp-like course without the use of their legs. It was an activity 15-year old Coeur d'Alene High School student Matt Priebels called "eye opening."

"That was my favorite activity. It makes you realize the importance of the struggles a handicapped person has to go through," Priebels said.

A group of around eight Boy Scout from the Coeur d'Alene area sat around their camp Friday afternoon to take a break while expressing that they, "love the freedom of the camp."

"Everyone here is LDS, so we share the same beliefs and the camp is just a good healthy environment, added Sam Lee, a 16-year old Coeur d'Alene High School student.

Being teenagers, the boys didn't provide all proper and respectable answers, adding they were "glad there were men that could cook" and a quick "but don't smell the tents" after a week full of boys with belly full of camp beans.

They also expressed that church leaders and speakers from the various stakes taught them the message of proper respect for women and children, including their moms, who they all couldn't wait to get back to and greet with hugs.

So it was a great week in all for the scouts, who spent their time wisely between a bevy of activities designed to develop their skills and prepare them for successful and spiritually-filled lives.

Brothers Michael, 13, and Kevin Bingham, 16, of Coeur d'Alene, take aim in the archery activity on Friday at the 'Catch the Vision' camp.

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