Wow. Huge news.

Read the full article at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865679711/Mormons-drop-Scout-programs-for-older-teens.html

Read another article written by The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/05/11/the-mormon-church-sticks-with-the-boy-scouts-but-will-leave-scouts-teen-programs/?utm_term=.ebc5525e269c


The LDS Church, the oldest and largest charter organization of the Boy Scouts of America, will drop Scouting from its Young Men’s program for boys ages 14 through 17.

Effective Jan. 1, the move will carve about 180,000 Mormon boys from the Varsity and Venturing Scout programs in the United States and Canada, replacing them with activities created for boys in those age groups by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church will continue to sponsor Cub Scouts for boys 8 to 10 and Boy Scout programs for those 11 through 13 in those two countries, but statements released by the church about the announcement signaled that it may drop those programs in the future, too.

The overhaul is stunning, because Scouting has been an indelible, seemingly inseparable, part of the LDS Church’s Young Men program for 104 years, but it isn’t a major surprise. Church leaders quietly have considered dropping Scouting from its Young Men and Primary programs for many years.

Church leaders announced the change and the reasons for it via mormonnewsroom.org Thursday morning.

“In most congregations in the United States and Canada, young men ages 14-18 are not being served well by the Varsity or Venturing programs, which have historically been difficult to implement within the church,” the statement said. “This change will allow youth and leaders to implement a simplified program that meets local needs while providing activities that balance spiritual, social, physical and intellectual development goals for young men.”

Church leaders also have wrestled with concerns about inequity within the church caused by Scouting. Hundreds of thousands of LDS boys in other countries did not have access to Scouting, and the church has spent more on American boys than girls because of its financial commitment to the Boy Scouts of America.

Discussions about those issues began before highly publicized controversies over BSA decisions to accept gay Scout leaders and gay and transgender Scouts and long before last week’s news that Scouting has considered admitting girls to more of its programs.

LDS leaders accepted gay, bisexual and transgender boys. They balked in the summer of 2015 when BSA accepted gay Scout leaders.

“The church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation,” the church said in a statement in July 2015. “However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.”

A month later, church leaders decided to continue with Scouting once BSA affirmed “the right of all religious chartered organizations to select their Scout leaders in accordance with their religious beliefs.”

The LDS Church has been a major part of the BSA. Nearly 1 in 5 American Scouts is Mormon. Church President Thomas S. Monson has been a member of the BSA National Executive Board for 47 years. BSA awarded him the Silver Buffalo Award. In October, the Thomas S. Monson Lodge opened at the Hinckley Scout Ranch in Utah, and construction is underway on the BSA’s Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

The BSA’s national board for years has included an LDS apostle and the church’s Young Men and Primary presidents. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is currently on the board along with Brother Stephen W. Owen, the general Young Men president, and Sister Joy D. Jones, the general Primary president.

The current national commissioner of the BSA is Charles Dahlquist, a former general Young Men president in the church and a former member of the General Church Scouting Committee.

“As much as I hate to see these young men move out of Scouting,” Dahlquist said, “I have the belief that this will be a wonderful, unifying opportunity for Latter-day Saint youth, to be able to reach their potential in ways that we have not seen possible.”

In April, the LDS Church hosted the annual LDS-BSA Relationships Seminar for Scouting professionals and volunteers from 21 councils and 16 states.

Mark Francis, the LDS-BSA relationships director, said, “The relationship between the church and the BSA dates back over 100 years. The church partnership with the BSA was a blessing to the relatively new Scouting organization. In addition, the willingness of the BSA to accept the church as a chartered partner during a time when there was not a favorable view of the Mormons was also an act of goodwill. Collectively, we have the capacity to solve the toughest problems and find solutions to benefit everyone.”

The church makes an annual lump sum payment to BSA. The church will make the same payment to BSA in 2018 that it did this year so that BSA will not experience an immediate financial hit.

The church said Thursday it is working toward programs to replace Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Brother Stephen W. Owen called leaders Monday at both the BSA and Scouts Canada, informing them of the church’s decision. Owen is the president of the church’s global Young Men program,

The change will address the disparity of funding and activities between the church’s Young Men and Young Women programs.

“Church leaders have long been aware of this concern,” the faith’s statement said on Thursday morning. “This new program brings the spending into balance for youth ages 14 through 18. This will continue to be a factor in the ongoing exploration and creation of a worldwide youth program.”

Today, about 470,000 LDS boys and young men ages 8-13 participate in Scouting programs in the US and Canada. As of August 2015, that represented nearly 17 percent of Boy Scouts in America.

More than 280,000 LDS boys and young men are between the ages of 8-13 will remain associated with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

The church will allow those among the 185,000 or so older young men who want to continue to register with the Boy Scouts to pursue rank advancements, including Eagle Scout, with the troops in their congregations. That will be a decision left to the boys and their families.

 

Read the full article at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865679711/Mormons-drop-Scout-programs-for-older-teens.html


 

Questions and Answers about Changes to the Young Men Program (from Mormon Newsroom)

Beginning in 2018, the Church will no longer participate in BSA Varsity and Venturing programs

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 11, 2017, announced significant changes to the activity program for young men ages 14–18. Listed below are several questions and responses media and others may have regarding this change. The change affects young men in the United States and Canada. Though the answers below are specific to the Boy Scouts of America, the same principles apply to our association with Scouts Canada. (See the First Presidency Letter announcing these changes.)
What exactly is changing?

  • Beginning January 1, 2018, young men from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will no longer participate in the Varsity and Venturing programs offered by the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Instead, Young Men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals outlined by the Church. These activities are designed to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.

Why is this change occurring?

  • In most congregations in the United States and Canada, young men ages 14–18 are not being served well by the Varsity or Venturing programs, which have historically been difficult to implement within the Church. This change will allow youth and leaders to implement a simplified program that meets local needs while providing activities that balance spiritual, social, physical and intellectual development goals for young men.

Does this mean the Church is completely separating from the BSA?

  • The Church continues to look for ways to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual needs of young men around the world. The current decision is consistent with those efforts. The Church will continue to use the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys and young men ages 8 through 13.

Previous statements have indicated that the Church wants a program that serves all young men around the world. Is this it?

  • No, this is not the global program, but an important step that addresses an immediate need. Varsity and Venturing programs have been difficult to run effectively on a local level. The Church continues to work toward developing a program for young men and young women globally.

Why is the Church remaining with the Cub Scout and Boy Scout program?

  • These programs currently meet the development program needs of boys from ages 8 through 13.

Why is this change only for the United States and Canada?

  • Varsity and Venturing programs are used only in Church congregations in the United States and Canada.

What has been the reaction of the BSA leadership to this decision?

  • In every discussion with the Boy Scouts of America, they have expressed a shared desire to do what is best for young men. We are grateful for their continued support with this new change and look forward to continuing our strong relationship in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs.

How does this impact the financial and property connections of the Church to the BSA?

  • Though important, financial and property obligations are not the primary concern. Instead, we are driven by our desire to serve the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual needs of young men.
  • Most of these legal associations are in connection with the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs.
  • The Church will continue to make the same payment to the BSA for registration of its young men through 2018, so there should be a minimal financial impact to Scouting.

What is the schedule for this announcement and rollout?

  • The announcement was shared on May 11, 2017. However, the discontinuation of the Varsity and Venturing programs will not occur until January 1, 2018. We encourage local units to continue with their planned activities as they review and determine how they will implement the new activity guidelines.

Can young men in these age groups continue to earn the Eagle Scout award?

  • Yes. Young men who desire to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged. It is important to remember that only those young men who are properly registered are eligible to be awarded merit badges and rank advancements.

What would you say to Church members about participation in the Friends of Scouting fundraising drive?

  • The Church will continue to be involved in Friends of Scouting as part of its relationship with the BSA and the Scouting programs for boys and young men ages 8 through 13.

Is this due to changes in Scout policy in the past few years to allow gay and transgender Scouts and leaders?

  • 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. This change is to address the needs of young men ages 14 to 18. The Church is always evaluating what is best for our youth and families, and will continue to do so.
  • The activities referenced on lds.org/youth/activities and ymactivities.lds.org have been in place since 2013 as a resource for youth and their leaders around the world. When followed, these activities can provide better opportunities for spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual growth.

Is the guideline that Young Men aren’t required to meet weekly a new directive?

  • No. This guideline (for both Young Men and Young Women) has existed in the Church’s handbook for many years.

Will the disparity of funding and activities that exists between the Church’s Young Men and Young Women programs be addressed as part of this change?

  • Church leaders have long been aware of this concern. This new program brings the spending into balance for youth ages 14 through 18. This will continue to be a factor in the ongoing exploration and creation of a worldwide youth program.
  • In each congregation, the ward council is encouraged to consider equally the needs of Young Women and Young Men and their families when planning activities and determining budgets.

Is this a reaction to the news that the Boy Scouts of America is considering the inclusion of girls and young women in its programs?

  • Church leaders learned just recently about the BSA’s intent to consider including girls and young women in Scouting. Our decision to end our participation in the Varsity and Venturing programs was made independent of this possibility and before that time. We anticipate our Cub Scout and Boy Scout units will continue as they are at present. For additional information go to: Aaronic Priesthood 14-18 Activities.