Mormon church to drop scouting programs for older teens

ST. GEORGE – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday it will be dropping its participation in Boy Scouts of America programs for older teens starting next year.

Specifically, the church will be dropping the Varsity and Venturing scouting programs that cater to teenage boys between 14-18.

Church officials said in a Q-and-A posted on the church’s newsroom website that the decision to end the scouting programs was not due to the BSA’s opening up to gay and transgender scouts and leaders. Instead, those programs just haven’t served the young men of the church well, church officials said, and they haven’t been the easiest programs to run locally.

“The BSA has always allowed the Church to operate its programs in ways that are consistent with our standards and beliefs, and they have been very supportive,” officials said. “This change is to address the needs of young men ages 14 to 18.”

Instead, activities offered through the church’s Young Men program will focus on “spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual needs” of the older teens in the church.

The withdrawal from the Varsity and Venturing programs will occur Jan. 1, 2018.

The church is not completely dropping out of the scouting program, however. Boys 8-13 will still be involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and individuals who wish to pursue earning an Eagle Scout rank are encouraged to do so.

“We anticipate that many youth from the LDS Church will continue to participate in Scouting beyond the age of 14 as young men work to earn the Eagle Scout rank,” BSA officials said in a press release Thursday.

The change only affects LDS church congregations – called wards – in the United States and Canada, as it only offers the Varsity and Venturing scout programs in those two countries.

The Boy Scouts of America deeply appreciates our relationship with the LDS Church, one that began in the earliest years of the Scouting movement when the LDS Church became the first partner to sponsor Scouting in the United States,” BSA officials said.

While scouting programs are embraced nationwide, the BSA noted that some programs are not “a perfect fit for all partners.”

Church officials previously said that the Boy Scouts program did not meet the needs of young men in other countries. Because of this they are working on developing their own global program.

Overall, approximately 470,000 boys ages 8-17 in the church in the United States and Canada participate in scouting, with an estimated 280,000 between 8-13 remaining once the church leaves the older-teen scouting programs.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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8 Comments

  • Brian May 11, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I’m a big fan of the Varsity program and have been involved in many camps (like On Belay), training, and Round Table over the years. But the reality is it has never gotten traction and is a constant up hill battle. The ROI hasn’t really been there. The return has been good, but the investment has been huge (in time and expense).

    I really look forward to getting back to basics with the young men 14 and up, and love the flexibility we’ll now have to focus more on the individuals and the needs of the group, rather than spending so much time in administration and cheerleading.

    I think this is a good change that is very timely. Scouting (13 and below) on the other hand has worked very well and will continue to do so. This is a good balance. I really like that the change isn’t in reaction to any particular BSA decision, but is a logical change whose time has come.

  • Anejo May 11, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    If it’s not do with the LDS church’s prehistoric attitudes towards the LGBT community, why is it even mentioned?

    • high5 May 12, 2017 at 7:21 am

      Really?- You cannot realize the true truth in this story?- of course it is🙄

    • great success May 12, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Speaking of prehistoric LGBT attitudes, it baffles me that so many, especially in this particular demograph of religious and political influence, feel they have the right/know-all to cast judgment on another’s biology of all things. You can’t choose your sexual orientation but you can choose to discriminate against a person’s basic human rights.

      • ladybugavenger May 12, 2017 at 5:09 pm

        You can choose your sexual orientation, just like a person chooses a drug. Boys have penises, girls have vaginas boy+girl=baby. We wouldn’t be here writing on st George news if it wasn’t for a male+female=us. If the whole world were same sex couples (with no children) it would eventually wipe out the population (probably not a bad thing tho, it’s just all wrong) when plumbing parts are attached female to female the world is over 😳

        Everything is a choice, choices have consequences.

      • ladybugavenger May 12, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        You shouldn’t worry about people casting judgment. You should worry about the judgement of God. (I know, you don’t believe, but that doesn’t change God. He is still on the throne)

        • ladybugavenger May 13, 2017 at 5:15 am

          I wonder if people standing before a judge in court are thinking, “don’t judge me” LOL

        • great success May 15, 2017 at 9:34 am

          I do believe. But I don’t believe in a God that would create something and then damn it. It’s not fair, right, just. Doesn’t sound like a perfect, supreme being to me at all. That sounds like something we imperfect creations of God do. Because people different from us makes us uneasy. Just look at our ugly present and past. Look at our rhetoric and actions dehumanizing skin color , and , yes women. We’ve tried to argue “different ” is less than us. Property. Not on the same level. Inferior.

          Remember, men have used and will use religion, the name of God, to justify all kinds of wrong things. Men will write or meddle in scripture and say it is the will of God.

          Do you have children? How wrong would it be to deny one your love because they have blue eyes? Love is a basic human right. I’m sure you’re heterosexual? What if you were told not to pursue love and companship from another man? To deny your basic human need?

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