Changes for the Scouting Program and its Effect on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Friday, May 26, 2017 - 7:15pm
Tami L. Johnson

Recently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints made an announcement to drop the Varsity and Venturing Scouting programs for older teen boys between the ages of 14-18 years old.  The LDS Church is the oldest and largest charter organization of the Boy Scouts of America.

Scout Executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, Mark Griffin, said, “We appreciate the relationship with the LDS Church over the past 104 years, and we’re going to do everything we can to continue serving the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts.”

Today, about 1 in 6 American Scouts is LDS.  Effective January 1st, 2018, the move will reduce as many as 180,000 LDS boys from the Varsity and Venturing Scouting programs in the United States and Canada.  The program will be replaced with activities created for boys in these age groups by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“We are committed to helping all youth reach their advancement goals, while strengthening their character development through our core Scouting programs, says Allen Endicott, Trapper Trails Scout executive.

The LDS Church will continue to sponsor Cub Scouts for boys 8-10 and Boy Scout programs for those 11-13 years in the two countries, but the possibility exists of those two programs also being dropped in the future.

A letter from the LDS Church’s First Presidency including: President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, states: “As part of the Church’s ongoing effort to evaluate and improve its service to families and young people worldwide, the Church will no longer charter Varsity or Venturing units with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada effective January 1, 2018.”

Further, the First Presidency would like to add, “We express sincere appreciation and gratitude to all adult leaders who have supported young men in these programs and we’re grateful for our long-standing and continuing partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada.”

Kelvin Lindeman, Scoutmaster in his Harrisville LDS ward, tells us, “These changes are more visionary and less reactionary to what is happening in the BSA. The world continues to change and become more wicked and the young men need to be better prepared for that.” 

Lindeman also adds, “If you look at how the teaching of the youth has improved for Sunday School (within the LDS church) from the “Come Follow Me” program, you will also recognize that this was inspired for the improvement of their testimonies to become a sin-resistant generation.”

The First Presidency of the LDS church would like to encourage young men over the age of 14 who have the desire, to continue to work toward their Eagle Scout rank or Queen Scout with community-based groups. They need to be supported and should be properly registered as Scouts.

Scout enthusiast and past Scoutmaster in his LDS ward, Jon Hansen, says, “The mission of the Boy Scouts is to ‘Prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Law.’ All of the Boy Scout programs do a great job at fulfilling this mission while teaching youth the importance of service and leadership.”

In addition, Hansen says, “There are many great programs for youth.  We need to find what works best for today’s youth.  For the youth who want to be involved with the Boy Scouts there are several ways to stay involved. The Order of the Arrow is available to Scouts to continue service and leadership opportunities.”  For more info. you can go to http://trappertrails.org

Things have a way of working out and according to Hansen, “It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I appreciate the Church’s desire to align the Young Men programs globally. I am glad we have a Prophet (Thomas S. Monson) that is led by divine revelation and knows what we need to do as a church.”

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