The Church Is Dropping Boy Scouts and Personal Progress. Now What?

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, you’ve heard that yesterday the church announced that it’s cutting ties with Boy Scouts, effective December 31, 2019. It’s also going to drop Personal Progress for girls, effective the same time (as far as I can tell). Most of the commentary I’ve seen is cheering this decision as a great move.

And I think I agree, though perhaps not for the same reasons many are cheering.

See, my Chicago ward hasn’t had a Boy Scout troop since it was formed eight or nine years ago. And neither has the ward I was in previously. As my son is approaching Cub Scout age, we’ve been looking for where to put him in Scouts (right now, we’re deciding between the Catholic pack his best friend goes to or the Lutheran pack that’s a little closer to our home). And as the church parts ways with BSA, it has tacitly approved members making that choice, and sending their sons to packs and troops where they will interact with their neighbors, Mormon or not. It will give them another chance to engage with and learn to love and respect people who are not like them.

And it provides the same opportunity for us as parents: we’ll have the chance to volunteer in the community, to avoid the insularity that our church service, mixed with our finite available time, can lead to. We can meet and serve people not of our faith. (Note that I think this aspect is absolutely critical; there are kids out there who need the role models we can be and the support we can offer, and, unless we put ourselves into positions where those kids can find us, we’ll miss an opportunity to serve, and they’re miss the service they truly need.)

Ditto with dropping Personal Progress. To the extent that was our excuse for not putting our daughters in Girl Scouts, that excuse is gone. We can discover what an amazing program Girl Scouts is, how it teaches our daughters both hard and soft skills, as well as self-worth and independence.[fn1]

I mean, if Scouting had value when it was affiliated with the church (and I think it did), it’s not going to lose that value when it becomes unaffiliated. It will still teach our boys to camp and tie knots and cook and make friends. It will still teach them to set goals, and to achieve those goals. It will still teach them to lead and to follow. It will still provide them with mentors to look up to, and mentees to guide. (And Girl Scouts teaches all of those things, too, ftr.)

And in community troops, it will teach them how to work with people with a wider range of backgrounds, but with similar goals, a lesson that will be invaluable to their future lives.

So: Boy Scouts is dead! Long live Boy (and Girl) Scouts!


[fn1] (Full disclosure, I suppose: my wife is the Troop leader for my daughters’ Girl Scouts. And I assume that, when my son gets to Cubs, I’ll be volunteering with whatever pack we enroll him in.

Comments

  1. Allow me to add my strong support for Girl Scouts. All four of our daughters had at least a year of GS; it wasn’t a good match for two of them, but one had a grand time and stuck with it until her priorities changed in her 7th grade year, and another–our youngest–is still going strong with the program after 5 full years with it. Like Boy Scouts (or now just Scouts), Girl Scouts isn’t for every child. That was the real, rock-bottom problem with the church making BSA central to the YM program in the United States; they were giving ecclesiastical approval (and thus pressure) to a program that really just isn’t for everyone. Now, that has ended–and now, parents of girls can (and should!) explore if Girl Scouts, or whatever, is really for them. My bet is that, most of the time, they’ll discover that it is!

  2. The difficulty I’ve had with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Personal Progress, etc, is that most people are still thinking gender insularity. Your footnote is a good example. With gender segregation we invite funding disparities and instill the idea of “this is what boys do and that is what girls do”. If boys don’t like “boys stuff”, too bad for them. If girls want to do what the boys get to do, ah well, most girls don’t really care about that, so we’re not going to do it.

    Whatever the new program in the works is going to be, I truly hope (but am not holding my breath) that it will be gender inclusive, allowing these prospective adults the chance to learn whatever the heck interests them.

  3. Frank, I haven’t been in Boy Scouts since I was 18 (well, technically I was the assistant assistant Deacons Quorum advisor between college graduation and the start of law school), so I don’t know exactly how it functions. But Girl Scouts supports a wide array of interests which aren’t gender-specific. My daughters have done camping, have fed the homeless, have had a tour of Groupon with female engineers, have heard from women doctors, have done Geocaching, have attended Cubs and White Sox games with Girl Scouts, have explored the food and culture of various countries, and have done dozens of other things—the program is tremendously flexible, and can be tailored to the girls’ wants and needs. And Boy Scouts (or BSA or whatever it is now) has enough merit badges that I suspect it can be similarly tailored. There is some research that suggests that gender segregation is valuable to some degree for girls, and for those (and other!) reasons, like Russell, I hope that parents see this division as an opportunity to try community Boy and Girl Scouts, and don’t treat whatever comes next in the church as the only activity their kids can do.

  4. Whatever the new program in the works is going to be, I truly hope (but am not holding my breath) that it will be gender inclusive, allowing these prospective adults the chance to learn whatever the heck interests them.

    I doubt there will be gender inclusivity either, Frank, but I’m of mixed opinions on that. Many children (and many adolescents, and more than a few adults) benefit in some key ways from organizations that, for better or worse, attempt to build upon the broad, sex-based socializations that they swim in the midst of in our (and pretty much every other) culture. That is by no means an argument for imitating the current set up, or an endorsement of current socializations being worthwhile; it’s just something to keep in mind. (For example, I’m positive that any attempt to put the current church practice of a yearly Girls Camp together with Scout Camp would be exceeding problematic, and moreover I’m positive that it would be the YW’s experience that would suffer the most. So, to that degree at least, keep up the exclusivity!)

  5. Sam, I completely agree.

  6. ME Moon says:

    I feel that with BSA not being a church-affiliated or endorsed activity, it will change the involvement. People who actively want to be involved will be involved, instead of every boy being automatically signed up and expected to show up to all the church/BSA activities as part of their youth group. It will improve the program, even if the enrollment goes down. It has been so heavily subsidized by the LDS Church and everyone is expected to join, it ends up being pretty lackluster (except on the part of some amazing leaders). I was expecting my son to have scouts AND Young Men’s when he turned 12. He has had mostly scouts, with the monthly activity where the young men and young women get together. I was really surprised by that, I remember in other wards in the past that they had scouts AND Young Mens. I want my son to learn scouting skills, but to the detriment of any spiritual growth? (Disclaimer: I grew up in a scouting family. I remember going to Philmont as a 5 year old so my parents could get training. My brothers worked at Philmont at least one summer each, if not two. Scouting has a lot to offer, I just didn’t like the forced participation as part of the church endorsed activity.

  7. Isn’t there going to be pressure to not have your kids join any Scouts because it would create a competing interest between them and whatever program the church puts out!

  8. the Other Brother Jones says:

    I am a 11 yr old scout leader. I have thought for awhile that Scouts has outlived its usefulness. With recent changes to accommodate LGBT and girls, perhaps the general Mormon confidence in BSA is a bit shaken. But the uniforms and rank requirements just bug me.

    I don’t know yet what the program will look like, but I suspect it will be flexible to allow local units to what they can with what they have, and concentrate more on gospel principles.

    I would love to see less focus on outdoor stuff and more on career possibilities and life skills. Expose the youth to a little home repair, automotive maintenance, budgeting, cooking, whatever careers and skills the local membership and community have to offer.

    But lose the badges.

  9. jader3rd, I certainly hope there wouldn’t. Honestly, we haven’t felt any pressure here to have our kids not do outside activities and, in fact, their leaders are totally understanding of the fact that their insane schedules of activities mean they can only make church activities on Sundays and once a month (or less) for weekdays. Maybe that’s idiosyncratic to the church in Chicago, but we’ve never faced any pressure—for anybody—to keep our kids’ activities entirely within the confines of the church.

  10. Our stake young men’s president has told me the new program for 14 to 17 year olds is not going well. A consistent, well organized youth program will begin at the local level. Challenging times for LDS youth retention.

  11. eternal graduate student says:

    Sam, I love the idea of more interaction with a broader community, for both adults and youth. However, I expect the new program will require about as much time as the old, and the counsel to participate in the ward’s program will be just as strong as before (both to keep the youth tied to the church and to strengthen the ward’s program by having enough participants). So I don’t see this change ushering in the kinds of interactions you described, although I hope I’m wrong.

  12. flipphone says:

    Frank, the email I received contains this sentence. “This new approach is intended to help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills, and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.” To me, it sounds like one purpose within the new approach will continue to teach and reinforce male and female roles….their eternal identity; which the world is trying to take away.

  13. the Other Brother Jones says:

    jader3rd and Sam. Of course it will cause pressure and conflict between two programs, but hopefully not from the church. The reality is there are more than 2 options. Add sports, music lessons, jobs, school work, marching band, etc. Every family needs to decide which programs are best for them, and attend and support the ones they choose.

    I am not sure that the churches new program will change that dynamic a whole lot for most families.

  14. In my sphere, I have been surprised today at how excited those who I always viewed as “super-scouts” are about this change! Now I don’t know if they were super supportive of scouts b/c it is the church’s chosen program or if they really were into it!

    I 100% agree with the critical benefit of exposure to non-LDS people as some chose to continue in scouting. (I am also a fan of vacation bible school!) Living in UT I am constantly seeking friends and organizational opportunities for myself and my kids with

    From the time my son turned 8 and we started attending pack meetings, his younger sister has asked regularly, “When will X have to clap FOR ME?” Currently I can only ensure this happens outside of the church, as there is no path to ensure boys support girls, and from the time boys are 8 they receive glory and recognition at church not available to girls. In my Utah ward, we have 7 cub scouts, which requires 10 adults and a $3000/year budget (yes, that includes membership dues, which we have to pay, so I don’t understand why some people try to not count it as $ spent on boys). We have 8 girls in activity days which has 2 adult leaders and a $160/year budget. I am so very hopeful that this change brings parity and real change.

    Of the 10 leaders in cub scouts, NONE are fans of the scouting program. Not a one. Not a single leader in my ward now would CHOOSE to participate in the BSA if they were not called to do so by the church. With the separation I imagine the actual scouting program can only improve by removing the people who don’t want to be there in the first place!

  15. Jack Hughes says:

    The LDS Church and the BSA have been strange bedfellows for a long time, so I welcome the split, and for other reasons as well. We can finally stop pretending that our half-assed approach to Scouting is working, no more “eagle factory” troops, etc.

    But I’m also worried about what the Church will come up with to replace it. Perhaps something like extended pioneer treks or outdoor youth conferences, filled with lots of (manufactured) spiritual experiences and impromptu testimony meetings. I remember going to an LDS encampment as a youth, and feeling like the religious aspects were a little bit forced and heavy-handed, wishing I could be spending the summer at our troop’s usual secular council-run scout camp instead.

  16. east of the mississippi says:

    You said it all EJ, I absolutely abhorred my time as YM President because I no choice but to be a leader in scouts. It’s a great program, just not for me.

  17. Molly Bay says:

    I think your concern about “manufactured spiritual experiences” has merit, Jack Hughes. (My own experience both as a YW and a leader in the YW program involved plenty of these and then some). But, I’m hopeful that the general leadership recognizes this as a problem. This is from the March 1, 2018 release about changes to girls camp:

    “The presidency encouraged leaders to shy away from experiences that rely on emotion or that try to force a spiritual experience through drama.

    “Sometimes young women—especially those who are just learning to respond to the Spirit—might think, ‘Everybody else is crying; why am I not crying? I must not be feeling the Spirit,’” Sister Oscarson said. “People can feel the Spirit working in their lives, and everybody reacts differently to it. Stick with the scriptures, the basic doctrines of Christ and of the gospel, and choose appropriate activities that invite the Spirit but which don’t try to manipulate emotions.”

    https://www.lds.org/church/news/changes-to-young-women-camp-detailed-in-new-guide?lang=eng

    For this reason and many more, I am so grateful for the leadership Sis Oscarson provided, and I will miss her at the helm of the YW!

  18. This sounds petty, I’m sure, but my objection to scouting had entirely to do with the uniforms and insignia and saluting, etc. (All the camping and skills–cool.) I didn’t like the militarization of boys. With Girl Scouts . . . well, it unpacks differently.

  19. I have an 8 year old son and do not want to waste the next 18 months on Cub Scouts for it to be just dumped. My son has been begging to join for 2 years since he has friends at school who go. Husband will not allow him to join a nonLDS troop. Not happy at all right now. If they are going to drop it then just drop it. And good luck getting any leaders to care when they know the program has an expiration date.

  20. What I will miss about Scouting:
    1. Outdoor activities (camping, hiking, etc)
    2. Spending time with my own boys and their friends in our ward at scout activities.

    What I won’t miss about Scouting:
    1. Drafted leadership rather than those who want to be in the program. When I was called as scoutmaster, I spent thirty minutes explaining why I wasn’t a good fit, but still got called and served for two years. I had a terrible experience with scouting myself, with a scoutmaster who was a physical bully, got arrested for shoplifting p0*n while SM, who stole stuff from his workplace, and still earned his silver beaver award.
    2. Funding and leadership inequities between our LDS run troops and non-LDS troops. Every time we went to a District-sponsored event such as Camporee or formal BSA summer camp, we consistently had 1/3 as many boys, and 1/4 the adult leadership as the non-LDS troops. These events are highly competitive; it’s like a junior college basketball team going up against the Golden State Warriors. Some kids are okay with that, but it could be demoralizing. We tended to avoid those events, except for the summer camp.
    3. An unfortunate tendency towards institutionalized bullying on the part of older boys towards younger boys. This was prevalent at the district event level where 17 and 18 year old boys ran most of the programs. Some were great, others were abusive and condescending towards the younger boys. When the non-LDS troops are running with a 17 year old Senior Patrol Leader, and your LDS senior patrol leader is 13, there is a huge power and confidence gap. And don’t get me started on Order of the Arrow. That’s a secret combination if I ever saw one.
    4. Four of my five boys liked scouting, but the fifth had zero interest, and none of them got beyond the rank of Life Scout. They weren’t that interested in getting their Eagle rank, and not having gotten it myself, I was a poor role model. Scouting is not for every boy, and trying to fit square pegs into round holes wasn’t all that fulfilling. I saw many of the boys in my ward who struggled with maintaining interest in scouting.

    While details about the new program are scarce, I am glad that the option of getting involved in community based scout troops and Girl Scout units are available for our LDS youth. For the most part, if they are interested in scouting and Girl Scouts, they will have a much better experience there. I’m also glad that I got the chance to be a scoutmaster. We kind of blazed our own path, trying to keep gospel principles involved in whatever we were doing, whether camping or doing career nights to help the boys think about the future. But I am glad to see the church going in a direction that perhaps better fits a world wide membership base, and hopefully provides a more equitable distribution of resources between the YM and YW.

  21. As for manufactured spiritual experiences my teenager is attending some Moroni’s Quest this summer which I have objections to. But no one asked me.

  22. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Sam,
    I hope your community non-LDS scout experience is better than our children’s was. We were optimistic for all of the things you mentioned, but live in a small community and there was only one option. We found the attitude of those we attended with to be insular. The longer term leaders tried to delegate the Cub programs to a parent of one of the new cub scouts who had little experience and unpredictable reliability. The role went to whoever raised their hand without any real search for a quality leader. The activities were not well organized and the leaders were just not that friendly.

    I credit LDS youth and mission leadership experience for preparing new adult leaders to assume scouting roles with the qualities to deliver better led activities compared to what we were given. I also had the discomfort of going to a committee meeting and hear a parent rail about how awful her son’s experience in a predominantly LDS state had been because of LDS scouting being what was available. It probably was awful but hearing the condemnation was not pleasant. I’m grateful the leaders there in the committee meeting did not pile on.

    In a way, I wish the LDS Young Women’s program would have adopted Scouts BSA for their program. My daughter would much rather have a camp with high adventure than a YW camp with singing annoying songs and doing inane crafts. She was disgusted when she heard that the Scout Camp we were looking at for this summer offered a Whitewater rafting trip and she is looking at more of the same at YW camp.

    I do agree that it is past time to stop basing the YM program for the global church on an American-only program. I will miss the vehicle LDS Scouting was to invite non-members to the church activities in a venue that was a degree more safe from forced religious participation than some of our other activities. It was great to socialize in our own LDS venues regularly with non-members who became close friends through LDS scouting.

  23. Kristine says:

    “In a way, I wish the LDS Young Women’s program would have adopted Scouts BSA for their program.”

    They did. The first manuals for “Beehive Girls” were closely modeled on scouting. The shift to emphasize family and homemaking skills happens mostly after mid-century. The 1930s manuals, for instance, have serious first aid instruction, lots of instruction in budgeting and financial savvy, etc. Not as much outdoor survival type stuff, but lots of physical fitness and solid skill-building.

    Alas…

  24. Paul Ritchey says:

    To the things Michael H. wont miss , I add: the paperwork, the anti-intellectualism, and the unfortunate political connotations.

    I’m curious to hear from those who are excited about scouting outside the Church: given the decline in scouting’s membership even with Church support, aren’t you concerned that scouting is on its way out generally? For my part, I see the Church’s withdrawal as motivated not so much by moral or global concerns as by the palpable sense that scouting has remained a mid-Twentieth-Century relic while the world around it has changed. Much about scouting – regimentation, patriotism as “loyalty,” arts and crafts, firearms, and, until very recently, gender inequality – seems stuck in a parochial era that the Church can’t seem to run away from fast enough.

    That is, I think this is another streak in the Church’s new progressive pattern.

    My greatest hope is that the word “intellectually” was an intentional choice for the statement. Repression of intellect has long been my greatest bone to pick with scouting. Scouts are “loyal…obedient…cheerful…brave.” They are not “thoughtful…wise…diligent…intelligent.” So I hope we go forward looking a bit more like the boy Joseph, and a little less like the Hitler Youth.

  25. Mixed feelings. 5 boys of my own currently in scouts. Current ym president. Super active troop. With 15 to 20 boys attending monthly campouts. 5 eagles so far this year.

    Pros…..

    Cost. Holy moly. Scouts is expensive. Camp cost me 3 or 4k last year. 2 went to philmont. Only upper middle class wards seem to be able to do the costs. Me and one other dad paying lots of the troops costs out of pocket.

    Forced participation
    Not all kids like scouts. Leaders same

    Ppwk. Insane amounts. Wife primary pres. Most difficult thing for both of us is the ppwk.
    Gender disparity. Its there. Its real
    Way less callings to fulfill

    Cons

    Program works for some
    Summer camp is usually great
    Eagle is sweet. Kids that complete learn a lot.
    Diversity of activities
    Access to camps. Not just during summer
    Tradition

  26. Jack Hughes says:

    I just looked up what “Moroni’s Quest” is because I never heard of it before. And I thought pioneer treks were strange, anachronistic and a bit cultish, but they now seem pretty tame.

  27. pconnornc says:

    For those hoping for less “gender insularity”, I sense the YM/YW programs are pushing for more combined activities, but would imagine they remain pretty gender insular. Regardless of gospel principles for segregation, there may be good social benefit from this too. I heard a national scout leader express happiness at the expanding participation of girls, but he also expressed that he sensed it was pushing boys out. His observation (and many social scientist’s too) was that like aged YW are more mature than their YM counterparts. Because of that maturity, the YW tended to progress and take leadership opportunities within the troop – making some YM feel less included and reducing the YM participation.

    I like that our quorum/groups have gender and age segmenting – allowing development for the individuals. I also like that we push combined activities in service, sports and social settings. It’s not an either or, hopefully it’s a both.

  28. “Our stake young men’s president has told me the new program for 14 to 17 year olds is not going well.”

    Anyone could have told you that was going to be the case. To illustrate why, explain in two sentences what the “new program” is. Does anyone know what the new program is? Is there training on it? Is there any real information about it? There honestly is no new program. There is a page that lists a bunch of possible activities, but they are all pointing to preexisting pages describing the varsity program. They took something that worked for those who were willing to be trained in it (though most were not), and took the name away and called it the new program.

    My hope that the new new program will be significantly better put together and advertised than the last new program was.

  29. Paul Ritchey says:

    Don,

    It was always pretty clear to me that the “new program” was a placeholder non-program until the Church finally left scouting altogether and designed its own program. The unlucky 14-17 year-old kids of the present are just left in the lurch a bit.

    I also wonder if there’s been some piloting of some candidates for the new world-wide program.

  30. Bbell – monthly campouts? That’s nuts.

  31. nobody, really says:

    Darn right on this Moroni’s Quest looking like a cluster. Take Trek, remove the death march aspects, add in the old “Road Show” concept. Plenty of rehearsals to keep everybody busy. After all, if teenagers have any “time”, they might find something else to do to fill that “time”.

    As far as the Scouts, good riddance. We had a nut in southern Idaho with one of those businesses where he would take addicted and troubled youth out into the desert and give them a good dose of “Anasazi” survival skills. Somebody at the council office got the brilliant idea “Why is it just the bad kids who get to do this? Shouldn’t we be offering this to the good kids as well?” And so began a water-restricted, food restricted adventure in the desert and sagebrush outside of Gooding, Idaho. I’m still shocked that nobody died. For an organization that preaches “Be Prepared”, taking 120 kids into the desert but confiscating canteens still seems like a spectacularly bad idea.

    I later worked on the staff at a six-week summer Scout camp, and learned that the only people who made it as “professional Scouters” were the ones who could look the other way for every possible type of abusive behavior. One of the leaders ended up wearing an ankle bracelet, and sports signs on the front lawn of his trailer warning that nobody under the age of 18 should get anywhere near the place.

    One of my brothers had the right idea – when the Bishop asked why he didn’t have his three boys in Scouts, he explained his experience, and let him know that the local Scout office was not to have any records on his boys. No troop registration, no counting them in troop membership, no requests to be Friends of Scouting. The meeting was followed up with the same request made in writing. Gave the whole family time to do the things they enjoyed on their own, and there were a lot of those things.

  32. Dallin H. says:

    The bottom line: Are the youth of the church coming closer to Christ through Boy Scouts and Personal Progress? It has been incredibly obvious to awhile that isn’t the case. Its also been the case that for the majority (at least in my CA wards) neither of those things have the appeal to keep many of the semi-faithful coming.
    If its not a big draw for youth and it isn’t spiritually promoting for youth why have it? The church has HUGE problems right now with youth and young single adults falling away. I’ve heard the rate is around 80%. They need to fix it fast.

  33. Send our sons to community packs and troops after the 2019 split?

    This will be just like a ward division. Y’all think you’ll remain the best of friends after the ward divides but 6 months after the split you are so completely involved in the new ward that you don’t even stay in contact.

  34. Most of the commentary here has been about Scouting and not Personal Progress, which is probably telling. Everyone has an opinion about BSA; if you haven’t served in YW recently, do you have any idea about the content of PP?

    I encourage you to take a gander at it. In theory, I really like the structure. A decent balance between structure and flexibility. A focus on spiritual development. In practice, the content seems to have been created at the point of maximum focus on home and family for girls. It’s so incredibly narrow. I really do get the sense that the Church is beginning to understand now that while it may value traditional gender roles, girls need to have broad skills. So, I’m hopeful that this new program will have some breadth that PP currently lacks.

  35. Dave K says:

    Thank you Sam. My thoughts are similar to yours. I will be very sad to see scouts go, but grudgingly admit its for the best. For my own kids, though, the timing is almost ideal. I have three teenage boys who will finish (or be close to) Eagle by the time scouts ends. And then I have two younger daughters who have an interest in Scouts BSA – something that may not have opened to them were BSA not looking to fill the void of losing the church’s support.

  36. Mike H. says:

    In general, I’m glad for the breakup, but wish things would have gone a little differently.

    Why I’m glad:
    1) Like others have said, no more forced participation (for both scouts or leaders). This made church-run packs and troops pretty low quality on average (though you could occasionally be lucky and get really stellar leaders in there). We’ve been participating in a neighborhood cub scout pack through the Catholic church for 4 years and it’s thriving and far exceeds the quality I’ve seen in most wards.
    2) Having the church focus on a program of spiritual development makes sense, as that is what we go to church for anyway. And perhaps a revamped, joint youth program could also integrate seminary in some way that doesn’t require early morning instruction outside of the Book of Mormon belt. Even though we want our kids to go to seminary, we were planning on opting for the independent study option in a few years once they enter high school.
    3) The opportunity (though we’ll see if this happens in practice) for real equality between YM and YW.

    How I wish things would’ve gone down instead:
    1) I wish there was more of an ongoing, supportive relationship between the church and BSA. Why can’t the church be a sponsoring organization for a neighborhood troop/pack like the Catholic or other churches? I fully agree not every ward needs a pack, but what about sponsoring one or tow per stake that is open to both LDS and non-LDS kids? Staffing should be exclusively by volunteers, not callings, but this could be a great way for the church to stay engaged in the community. The church seems to value getting community people in the door for missionary work–and this is an excellent program the church can sponsor to help bring people into our buildings and see the Mormons aren’t so strange after all. But alas, a great opportunity squandered.
    2) I regret the church is struggling so hard to take what seems to be the obvious steps of becoming at least somewhat more inclusive to stay relevant in a changing society. It’s way too easy to see this split as the church’s refusal to get with the times and be more inclusive as BSA is obviously trying to do. I fear the church that I’ve grown up in and love is continuing a slow walk into irrelevancy for both its members and society at large.

  37. We have non members in both our troop and pack in our ward.

  38. I was part of a focus group two years ago where they presented the new program we will all see in 18 months. I was excited then, and I am more excited now.

  39. Aussie Mormon says:

    As a non-USA Mormon, I’m glad that this is happening. Had I been in the USA I would have suffered majorly with scouting due to physical limitations. Over here it was great. We still had YM/YW camps every year. There were overnighters. YM/YW activities every week that were planned and more than just sport. Things were catered to the group not “the program”. For youth that wanted to do them there was Personal Progress and Duty to God, but though I can’t speak for the YW, the Duty to God program wasn’t forced on the YM (so I never got the little ox-head lapel pin).
    Local leaders who actually care (as the ones here did and do) are perfectly capable of running a youth program which is adapted to the needs of the youth in their ward and stake. They shouldn’t require the existence of third party groups to do-so.
    I am looking forward to seeing where the church takes the youth program though.

    I am interested in seeing what happens to the BSA on an organisational level though. Based on Wikipedia, the church chartered 37% of the BSA units (18% of the BSA youth). That’s a pretty large chunk to suddenly be removed if they don’t swap to other units.

  40. Michael says:

    Sam:

    Find a good scout troop and give it your heart and soul, if your son is one of the 10-20% of boys who really desires to be a scout, without compulsion. It is not for everyone.

    Scouting in a troop loosely associated with a Protestant church was by far the best thing I ever did with my son. We will always cherish the memories of the hundreds and hundred of miles backpacking/canoeing, the hundreds of nights camping, the hundreds of hours performing community service, the 3 high adventures we went on together (plus the 4 father-and-son only high adventures he planned and we did ourselves) and all the fun we had at weekly meetings.

    At age 18 my son was obviously a better leader than 90% of the men I have known in the church including myself. He was instrumental in helping more than one troubled boy turn his life around. Because he embraced the principles in the scout oath and law deeply, he has become the most Christ-like persons I know. I am honored that God let me be the father of this one of his blessed sons.

    When he was 17 years old the stake president asked me to speak in stake conference on the topic of how scouting prepares a young man for a mission. I replied the topic was too narrow. I would like to speak on how scouting prepares a young man for life. He agreed. I said I was not trying to weasel out of the assignment, but I knew someone who would be a far better speaker on the topic, my son. The stake president agreed, if I would ask him and he wanted to do it.

    I was never so proud to see him stand in his scout uniform at the pulpit and describe in ways I can not, how scouting prepares a boy for life.The visiting GA took out a pad of paper and wrote furiously. After the meeting the visiting GA asked to speak to my son and they went into a room together for over an hour. I hoped something would improve in our floundering ward scouting and now perhaps it has.

    My son has been out of scouting now about as long as he was in it and I am still in the troop camping every month. I have a fervent testimony of scouting and will continue camping until my health gives out and that day is not far away. Currently, I am preparing to take 4 of about the sorriest little punk scouts on a high adventure to Matagamon Maine this summer. (The dozen plus other stronger and more together boys don’t want to go.) This may be my hardest expedition yet for different reasons. I hope that with the help of God, these boys will push themselves a few steps closer to honorable manhood.

    I have a lot more I would like to write, pages and pages, but this is the important part.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    My son is a consummate outdoorsman. If anyone should have loved scouts, it should have been him. He goes to a week long scout camp in Wisconsin one year, earned a bunch of merit badges, and his leaders lost the cards. They weren’t true scouters, there only because of assignment, made no effort to fix it. Their attitude was “Oh well, too bad.” That was the end of his participation with Mormon fake scouting. This never would have happened in a real troop with real leaders who actually cared.

  42. Paul Ritchey says:

    It shouldn’t even be about the cards. Which is the point.

  43. josh harrison says:

    I read the article and all of the comments and I’m surprised nobody is discussing the timing of the Church’s decision. The timing (just a few days after the BSA announced the name change and that girls may be included) suggests that the Church made their decision as a response to the BSA announcement. I happen to believe that the “girl” issue may have been the final nail in the coffin. But my guess is that this decision has everything to do with President Monson’s death. He was always a big-time scouter and there was no way the Church was going to break up until he passed. But unfortunately, the timing suggests that the decision was more of a reaction to gay and girl scouts. We will never know because the Church isn’t “going there”

  44. I completed personal progress about 14 years ago. Maybe the program has changed, but I thought it was pretty silly. The requirements were things like “read a scripture every day for a week” or “put a note on your mirror reminding you that you are a daughter of God for two weeks” with a few more intensive requirements, like sew a quilt or keep a journal. My mom suddenly decided I should complete it when I was almost 18 (I really, really didn’t care) and I coasted through most of the program in a couple of months.

    It’s probably one of those things where you get out of it what you put into it. But after watching my brothers get their eagle scouts it felt like a pretty empty endeavor. I hope the new program will give the young women real challenges to complete and something important to accomplish.

  45. Kevin Barney, we had a similar challenge when we moved from Utah to Pennsylvania. My son had completed an entire year of 11-year-old scouts, and had advanced in rank, however the leaders kept NO records whatsoever of what he had done. Despite my attempts to contact his former leaders, no one could re-create or provide any type of proof of what he had earned. The new troop in PA (a non-LDS troop) had nothing to go on, and therefore he was required to earn the entire rank over again, which put him significantly behind his peers. Although he continued to participate in scouts for two more years because he loved the outdoors, the friendships, and the other activities, that was about the end of rank advancement for him. He told me he felt no motivation because it was so discouraging to think about making up an entire year’s worth of effort. (He did make up that particular rank, but after that he was done.)

  46. Happy Hubby says:

    Wow! Quite a few comments. Maybe BCC press can print those as a book! :-)

    I am with you on this Sam. The ward I was in quite a few years ago was on the edge of town and had a big subdivision, and then a huge swath of “country” land (The ward alone was about 80% of the stake as far as area it covered). As such it was decided that the subdivision had some good cub programs and one of the small towns out in the country also had a good cub pack. So it was agreed members would sign up with local packs instead of driving for 45 minutes each week. It was WONDERFUL! We got to interact with many other good neighbors and we also were able to take many leadership opportunities. Instead of being busy insular Mormons we really integrated into the neighborhood packs and got to know our neighbors. And after 5 years of this I still have good friends that you just don’t get to have with being on the same baseball team or the like for one season.

  47. Natalie says:

    Suggestion for new program: Eliminate early-morning in-person seminary and have some of the freed time on weekday nights be for in-person seminary discussions. Not all the time, because fun socializing matters too.

  48. Kristine says:

    josh–there’s no way that this kind of decision was made in just a few days. If you’re looking for a catalyzing event, I’d suggest President Monson’s death as a more likely possibility.

  49. For all those who have done Scouts with non-LDS troops, how did the monthly campouts go? Did they happen on Sundays?
    In my ignorance, it’s my understanding that a normal once-a-month campout is supposed to start on Saturday morning with setting up camp just before lunch or just after lunch (depending upon the availability of the campsite). Then they work on Scout stuff, have dinner, and go to bed. Then on Sunday they have breakfast, do more Scout stuff and then come home.
    Whereas an LDS based Troop over nighter, consists of getting everyone together once the Scoutmaster makes it home from his commute on Friday night, hopefully being able to setup camp before it’s dark (but regularly not), having dinner, sleeping, having breakfast in the morning, taking down camp and getting home hopefully in time that none of the boys miss out on their Saturday sports game.

  50. This has been in progress well before Pres Monson’s death, evidenced by the change in 14-18yo scouting. That was a first step. The latest announcement is a “get ready” for the big step coming in 2020, so no one feels they have to scramble when a new program is dropped in their lap. The Church doesn’t move fast enough for these big things to happen just because “the old man finally died”.

  51. Jader3rd, our non-LDS troop camped from Friday evening through Sunday morning. We always picked up our son on Saturday night so he would be home for Sunday. Most of the time it was no big deal because they usually camped at the local scout camp property, which was only about 20 minutes from our home. But there were occasions when we drove several hours one-way to pick him up. It was a sacrifice, but we felt it was important both for him to have the camp experience and also to keep the Sabbath/meet his church obligations.

  52. Paul Ritchey says:

    Kristine: I doubt BSA made its decision in a few days, either. Maybe there was coordination.

  53. Kristine says:

    Paul, that seems plausible. I think it’s even possible that including girls is an attempt to make up for the lost revenue from Mormon scout units.

  54. Nunya Bidniss says:

    All the programs are what you make of them. They are not magic incantations, or factories.
    If your scouting experience has been negative, it is a case of Garbage In- Garbage Out.

    I guess we are like the saints early of in the Restoration: they didn’t want Zion more than they wanted justice for wrongs against them. We don’t want the result of the tool we were given more than we want to argue over if it’s nice/convenient/cool or whatever. If 1/2 of the belly-aching about how awful the program is was converted into energy lifting up the boys using the actual program -as written, the awfulness would go away. We surely wouldn’t have 11yo Scout “leaders” who hate what they’re working for, Cub Scout “leaders” who dislike helping their ward’s children, cautionary tales about ubiquitous predators, etc.

    I owe a great debt to Boy Scouting. It took me when I was an angry, sad young man with negative male remodels and gave me a concrete structure to implement Christlike behavior, and a concrete vision of my Divine Worth. The program made the theoretical ideals I was learning at church into real and actionable steps, and following through with values of work, service, devotion to God, and the values in the Scout Law, lifted me be a better man. I truly wish I could say that about my priesthood quorums.
    I have no doubt that the Lord has used the Boy Scout program to do similar things for His sons in the US over the last 100 years, and however He wants to accomplish it from now on will work out fine, if we’ll use it.

    What I see (e.g. some comments in this thread, and some parents of my Scouts), is the US Saints not being able to use the tool they’ve been given. They’ve taken something that could be used to teach real Christian principles to kids who can’t internalize them by being lectured on Sundays, and they’ve turned the tool into: a foil for political grandstanding; an excuse for covetousness; a cudgel for “I told you so”; an attempted cover for sin; a virtue-signal or chance to look down on others. I could go on.

    I’ve been trying to give back to the Boy Scouting program, volunteering with the council -across units, and volunteering for Scout callings at church. Starting in 2020, I’ll be less utilized by my Church, but hopefully not by the Lord.
    I’ll be trying to help as many other angry, sad boys a chance to become kind, strong, valuable, Christ-like men as I can.

  55. Jenny Harrison says:

    I think all these comments have been wonderful and informative. I also think another reason the LDS church is leaving boy scouts has to do with money. I really believe they are not bringing in anywhere near the tithing funds they used to bring in. I have left, so they don’t get my tithing. Instead I give directly to the poor. My oldest son has left and he does the same. Our second son is in the ‘investigative’ mode and will surely leave. Also with all the baby boomers retiring there is not as much money from them. I think of my parents living on saving and social security. They pay no tithing on social security because they always paid on their gross and feel they are paid up, and then they only pay a paltry amount on what they make on their savings. As more and more people leave, (mostly young people in their prime money making years), I am sure it hurts their bottom line.

  56. Lily Larson says:

    As a YW I have always been kind of unhappy with the fact that the boys got to learn cool things like survival, and outdoor skills, while the girls got to do what? Write in our journals, about the scriptures we read. I understand that it is good and spiritual, but we need to learn some stuff to, why can’t we have fun?

  57. nobody, really says:

    Jenny, roger that on the high cost of Scouts. My current unit does not offer Scouts at all. With my former unit, the Young Men consumed 55% of the ward budget. That didn’t include Cub Scouts and 11-year olds which came from the Primary budget. I’d have to guess that 70% went directly and indirectly to BSA obligations, and that didn’t include the yearly shakedown for “Friends of Scouting”. We once had a Scout campout and bike ride that took more money than was spent that year for Elders, High Priests, and Relief Society combined.

  58. Lily,
    You are right that often the boys get to learn cool things that the girls don’t, (and BSA involvement has played a big role in facilitating that for younger boys) but I place the blame for that disparity on local YW leaders, not the YW program. The current YW program, if run as directed in the YW materials, is youth led in terms of ward/branch YW activities. I have been in multiple wards/branches in my life. In some of them the YW did those things with the full support of their YW leaders.. In one of them, the YW actually figured out how to create and run an all-girl Venture Crew and went to Philmont. In another they put together a week long canoe trip instead of Girls Camp.
    Why didn’t it happen in the other wards/branches? Generally, because the adult YW leaders balked at the amount of work it would take to do that, or weren’t confident enough to plan ahead for the next year and request the budget needed, or felt that the were way too unprepared or unwilling to participate or help young women organize or find mentors for the kinds of activities you describe. I know. In my younger days, I was one of them In another ward, the YW president laughed and said “my idea of camping is a hotel with room service.”
    So, as an adult, I do not blame the program. I simply mourn the lack, on the part of some adult leaders, to catch the vision of a youth led YW program when the YW wish for the program to be more than how you describe.
    That is one of the biggest challenges in both the YW and YM programs: The directives are that adult leaders are to facilitate a youth led program and help the young people become successful at that. The combination of a) temptation on the part of adults to just direct it themselves because that’s easier than mentoring young, inexperienced leaders and b) the young leaders’ inexperience in either catching the vision of what is possible or knowing how to make it happen is a combination that I saw play out again and again as both YM and YW activities in wards or branches just followed the pattern of doing “the kind of things we have seen done before or read about online”.
    One day, hopefully, you will be an adult YW leader. I suspect that you will not fall into that pattern, but will do the extra work and find the extra strength and vision to help your young women find out how to create what they hope to create in their YW experiences, and not just do what fits into your “comfort and familiar” zone.

  59. Left Field says:

    I am quite confident that admitting girls to Cubs and the now-Scouts BSA programs had somewhere between zero and nothing to do with this. If the church had wanted to continue chartering troops and packs, it would have been no issue at all that girls are registered in units sponsored by other organizations. The Exploring/Venturing programs have been coed for something like 50 years, and the church just went on chartering their own single-sex Explorer Posts and Venturing Crews, while other organizations chartered their own all-boy, all-girl, or coed units. No hand-wringing necessary. In fact, even with the change, all Scout Troops will continue to be single-sex. Young women will be admitted to all-girl Troops. Unlike Exploring and Venturing, which the church participated in for fifty years, there won’t even be coed Scout Troops. And Cubs will have single-sex Dens.

    For that matter, the issue of gay scouts and scouters, once the subject of much pearl-clutching, also should not have been a problem. For at least a couple decades before BSA admitted gay scouts and scoutmasters, gay church members were ostensibly permitted to belong to the Young Men organization, be ordained to the priesthood, attend the temple, and serve in quorum presidencies and Young Men presidencies. It was the BSA, not the church who had explicit rules forbidding gay adults and youth from participating. That’s not to say that a gay man was likely to be called as YM president, but the official church position had been that just being gay by itself, was not a disqualification. The BSA changes just brought scouting in line with the policy that the church already professed for its non-scouting callings.

    I think much bigger factors included internationalization and the complicated and often poorly-understood relationship between the Aaronic Priesthood, the Young Men auxiliary, and scouting. Aaronic Priesthood quorums meet on Sunday and are led by youth presidencies. The Young Men organization meets during the week and has adult presidencies. They cover very different territory and have different activities. And yet in every priesthood meeting in my ward, the Aaronic Priesthood is invariably referred to as “the Young Men.” And nobody understands how the Young Men is supposed to fit into scouting. It’s unclear even how the term “Mutual” is supposed to be applied. At the very least, getting rid of scouting is a step towards simplifying all that.

  60. Chardin says:

    Roman Catholic here….nice job. You guys would make awesome papists! ;)

  61. Michael says:

    Some of these disparaging and insulting remarks about scouting make me inclined to want to turn a sack full of skunks loose in your tents. :)

    Regular (authentic) scouting resembles Mormon scouting about as much as the National Football League resembles the English Football League (soccer). We should have changed the name from BSA to BSM. The M for Mormonia; the BS as you like it. Some of the criticism is like an investigator saying they don’t like Mormon church meetings because the candles smell like bear poop. If you are burning bear poop candles in your ward, why blame the rest of the church?

    Allow me to set the record straight, as I see it:
    -Scouting has been and remains the most successful youth service/leadership training program in modern western civilization.
    -Scouting is flexible and has international appeal.(Mormon scouting does not.)
    -Regular scouting is not perfect. It is in need of some modifications and has less “market share.” But it is far far from obsolete.
    -We Mormons have exploited and mangled the flexibility of scouting far beyond the breaking point to create our own program that only preserves a few of the outward manifestations but denies the fundamental heart and soul of scouting.
    -We Mormons have very little understanding, for the most part, of regular scouting and persistently assume that our scouting is far more similar to it than it is.
    -Our version of scouting doesn’t work. Often it stinks.With rare exceptions. Citation: Any discussion about Mormon scouting.
    -Our leaders, instead of recognizing that they are responsible for creating the problems in our program, have unfairly blamed the larger community of scouting.
    -Now our leaders are kicking themselves and the rest of us out of our own unsustainable program and killing it, while besmirching the reputation of the rest of scouting.
    -There will be consequences for us. Further loss of respect for us. (This will be a smoldering PR cesspool for our reputation), blame for near-future problems, loss of opportunity to help lead scouting through the current challenges to a brighter future, loss of leadership and character development opportunities for our boys. And more…

    Forgive me if I am skeptical, that we will replace scouting with anything better. When we fail to comprehend and acknowledge past mistakes and learn from them, we are prone to repeat them.

    A few years ago I was invited to attend a stake level meeting discussing the problems of scouting. I was amazed at the collective dedication and past history of effort represented in that room. For over 2 hours I heard problem after frustration after failure described. I could not fail to notice that my non-LDS troop did not have even a whiff of ~90% if these problem and only minor manifestations of the other ~10%.The solution was obvious to me, return to the fundamental principles that make scouting work outside of the LDS church. However, this would require such drastic changes and the sacrifice a small herd of sacred Mormon cows. It was never going to happen.

    I welcome the elimination of our deeply flawed scouting program. The faint hope of ever making scouting a powerful force in the lives of very many Mormon boys, like it is for my son, is lost and this saddens me.

  62. What do I tell my cub den who is working towards advancement? What do I tell new cubs about uniforms, Boy Scouts, arrow of light, etc? Very unfair to those caught in the gap.

  63. What do I tell my nonmember cubs who active?

  64. Michael says:

    Kevin Barney above (at 6:58 pm) demonstrates an excellent example of missing the scouting boat.

    We teach our boys in the regular troop that they are responsible for keeping track of their progress, for documenting it and not losing it. This skill might be more valuable than what is gained from doing the requirements for many merit badges. When they lose a card, we smile and tell them to do it over. We start at the very beginning. It happens to everybody. This proves to be harder for the adults. But when you lift your sights from checking off requirements and begin looking for opportunities to teach points of the scout law/oath, it becomes worth it. We also make it so hard that they never earn merit badges in bunches. They value each one more and only a fraction of the boys have the persistence to earn Eagle by age 17-18. And there is no shame in that either.

    One of our working rules is: If a boy can do it, let him. Don’t do it yourself. If he can’t do it, wait a year and he will grow into it. We have exceptions when physical safety is at risk.

    Those lazy scouters who couldn’t even do the easy route, set your son up to fail by creating a doubly false expectation.

    Just my perspective, no offense intended.

  65. Aussie Mormon says:

    “Michael: Forgive me if I am skeptical, that we will replace scouting with anything better.”

    The rest of the world copes fine without the church being involved in scouting. The US should be able to to.

  66. Chrysalis says:

    Welcome to a world wide Church! The rest of us seem to run perfectly acceptable YM and YW, and activity days for Girls and Boys programs without BSA, and have been for years.

  67. Paul Ritchey says:

    Michael,

    A PR problem to *leave* scouting? Quite the opposite. Scouting isn’t cool anymore. This isn’t 1958. Do you realize how ridiculous neckerchiefs look? Don’t even get me started on campaign hats and knee socks! There’s a reason BSA has lost 35% of its membership over the last 15 years, and it ain’t the LDS Church: it’s too creepy for normal folks, and too liberal for paramilitary folks. You can blame corporate culture, or the Grateful Dead, or whatever, but leaving will be no skin of the Church’s nose.

    Everything about the Church is being renewed: we’re encouraging tech, redesigning our media, and renovating our temples. Scouting must go. And my prediction is that the movement even outside the church has, at most, a generation left to live.

  68. Interesting attitudes expressed here: ” too creepy for normal folks, and too liberal for paramilitary folks”.
    According to one BSA Council board member, much of the board of the local BSA council board could not grasp why the council had lost 6,000 scouts in just a few years. His response: BSA first irremediably offended its “liberal” troop sponsors by explicitly disallowing gay scouts (regardless of their behavior) and then by disallowing gay scout leaders (regardless of their behavior) after which it irremediably offended its conservative “Christian” troop sponsors by allowing gay scouts and then gay scout leaders. He could have gone on about the groups now offended at the admission of girls.

    Perhaps Scouts -BS can repackage itself to a smaller market, but it’s not looking likely despite significant success in the more distant past and still in some circles. The Church is not now in the process of abandoning scouting; it did that long ago with directives and troop sizes that made it impossible for most wards to do scouting as designed. Instead, the Church is in the process of divorcing BSA because it is not a good fit for the varied needs and interests of our young people. (It wasn’t a good fit for a number of us in the distant past either and the Church/family insistence upon it and its rank advancements did untold damage to individuals and relationships.)

    Nothing precludes those who want to do scouting from joining a non-LDS-sponsored troop/pack/whatever and doing it right, just as we have young people who opt for Girl Scouts, or soccer leagues, or music, dance or gymnastics lessons, or whatever. The Church’s financial accommodation to BSA by postponing the divorce until the end of 2020 is not a good reason for those boys 8-13 who are interested to continue with LDS-sponsored organizations and then stop cold-turkey. Why not make individual and parental decisions about transitions to other organizations or interests when it is in the child’s best interest. Encouraging rank advancement on a race to beet an artificial deadline set for BSA organizational interests on not for the children’s interests doesn’t seem to me a responsible thing to do (unless, of course, everything in life is supposed to be subordinated to bureaucratic decisions from SLC that accommodate more interests than the childrens’).

  69. Paul Ritchey says:

    My goodness, JR is a good writer. I’d have spent hours and not written so good a summary.

  70. Sorry about the typos/autocorrect, but I think you can tell what I meant.

  71. Paul Ritchey says:

    I meant substance, not form. And I wasn’t being sarcastic. It was very well said, and we could all tell what you meant.

  72. Not a Cougar says:

    I for one am going to push my ward hard to not recharter our unit this fall (I suspect I’ll not be successful but perhaps there will be willingness to consolidate to one stake troop – which I wish would have been the standard long ago where geographically possible – in my stake growing up in Texas, we would have needed two troops to make it work geographically and the drives still would have been a bit much for some). We have a multi-ward Cub Scout pack that is already not working well, and our Scout troop is now essentially a small patrol since the 14+ year old boys have abandoned it. I think consolidation at the stake level (again, where geographically possible) is a fair compromise between letting barely to non-functional troops and packs wither to nothing over the next 18 months and simply quitting cold turkey on 1 June 2018. Yes, there would be a fight amongst the wards over who was required to help fill adult positions, but I suspect an entire stake would have enough willing adults to fill positions where a single ward obviously would not.

  73. Not a Cougar, Though I’ve heard of relatively successful multi-ward or stake scout packs or troops, where I have seen them tried, their failure was not merely because adult leaders/bishops would not cooperate, but also because of building scheduling issues with 3-4 wards in a building, and because of conflicts between pack/troop time and other Church activity time even when meetings/activities were not scheduled at the church building.
    I think the Church boxed itself into failure of activity and community-building among the Saints (other than in locales where a ward consists of a few blocks and nearly all your neighbors) when it began to insist on small wards and small buildings. Decades ago we built what would now be a stake center size building for a single large ward. That made many things possible that are now impossible. Of course, it also put a really heavy burden on bishops — sometimes with resulting disastrous effects on their children.
    Good luck with the stake troop idea. Why not begin moving interested boys to non-LDS troops now? And take local control of activity days for LDS children and youth? I would choose to refuse to charter packs/troops at the ward level as soon as I could get interested boys into stake-chartered or non-LDS-chartered packs/troops.
    Bias disclosure: I am an Eagle Scout who appreciates what scouting has accomplished and can accomplish for some, but who is very clearly not a “Friend of Scouting” when it comes to forcing some adulterated version of the BSA program on all American Mormon boys.

  74. Not a Cougar says:

    JR, I personally agree that pushing boys and girls to non-LDS units is the better approach (and re-reading what I wrote, you would never guess that), but the Church has already signaled that that is off the table with the statement “Until then, the intention of the Church is to remain a fully engaged partner in Scouting for boys and young men ages 8–13. All youth, families and leaders are encouraged to continue their active participation and financial support of Scouting until that date.”

    I see the stake level unit as a compromise that falls within the letter and the spirit of the divorce announcement. I also understand the scheduling conflicts and perhaps those are insurmountable (though if the stake president throws his weight behind it I suspect it can work out), but I’d prefer to try that than deal with the slow 18 month death that I believe will befall our ward’s units and result in boys being turned off scouting altogether when they likely would have remained active scouts in functioning units. And I say this as an Eagle Scout who didn’t really like scouting all that much.

  75. “All youth, families and leaders are encouraged to continue their active participation and financial support of Scouting until that date.” Taken literally, this does not encourage participation in or financing an LDS-sponsored BSA troop any more than it encourages such participation in or financing a non-LDS-sponsored BSA troop or a Girl Scout organization [note: “youth” is not limited to 8-13 year old boys], or even “scouting” efforts that are neither BSA nor GSA, etc.. I choose to read it as encouraging continuation of my long-standing lack of any financial support for BSA while being willing to serve as merit-badge counselor, board of review member, occasional court-of-honor attendee, etc. Others could fully comply with that “encouragement” by transferring to a non-LDS pack or troop.

  76. Steve G. says:

    I welcome the news that came this week, especially an end to friends of scouting, I just wish they started phasing out from the bottom to top instead of th etop to bottom. Had they announced and end to Cub Scouts first, then we wouldn’t have boys put into a program that is sunsetting before they very get far into it.

  77. Steve G., If I had boys at the point of entering cub scouts who wanted to be cub scouts, I think I would put them in non-LDS packs at the start and keep them out of the sunsetting LDS pack, unless what they really wanted was to hang out with their Church friends who declined to do the same. In the latter case, I’d explain to them at the outset that their Church scout pack wouldn’t exist in a couple years, so they’d either have to quit or join a different pack at that time. Not every LDS parent will be as comfortable as I am about placing the boys’ interests ahead of the Church auxiliary organization interests or BSA’s interest.

  78. Marcella says:

    I wrote a note to our stake primary president today suggesting that the transition for boys out of ward packs/troops be earlier than December. The cub packs here run with the school year – September to June. It would be better for the boys to begin in a new pack in September with the rest of the boys than wait until January to try and join. Same with 11 year old scouts moving to a regular Boy Scout troop. Here they move from Cubs into Boy Scouts at the end of the school year so they can join the troop at summer camp. To wait six months until January is to be really behind the rest of the same aged boys and have a harder time fitting in when positions and such are set. I get the “December” date because it fits with the registration year – but it does not fit with the scouting year. Silly to pressure families to keep with the ward version until then.

  79. Steve G. says:

    I put my boy in the community pack in 2nd grade as a 7 yr old because he really wanted to join with his friends from school. I figured he could get his Tiger Award. But no, 2nd graders were wolves He turned 8 at the end of 2nd grade. When he turned 8 I moved him into the ward pack, so he got to be a wolf for a very long time. I never should have removed him from the community pack, since he was excelling there, but languished in the ward pack that was much smaller and had less enthusiastic leaders. Now he is 11 and hates scouting. So good news, no more scouting for him. Wasn’t going to push him into it anyway.

  80. Michael says:

    Paul:

    Regular scouting is cool in Georgia. You describe either Mormon scouting or lame non-LDS scouting. Your perceptions are real to you. I will leave it at that.
    (Maybe an extra skunk in your tent.)

  81. AK Transplanted says:

    A few stakes in our area have gone to the stake troop model this year, something we should have done long ago. It’s working, for the most part. However, it’s a steep learning curve for leaders who have done small-troop church scouting for so long to now have a troop with thirty boys each week.

    What I feel about this announcement, though, is a sense of a missed opportunity. Scouting has always had the potential to be an amazing missionary opportunity for those of us “in the mission field.” We have had multiple non-LDS Cub Scouts in our pack (which, btw, is combined from two wards). The family of one of those scouts has been coming to church lately, too. There are only a few community troops in my area, and our stake troop has a great opportunity to fill a needed niche.

    And not to throw a monkey wrench into anyone’s plans, but we tried the community troop with our oldest boy. It worked for a little while, but not for long. The problem? Sunday camping. Nearly every campout went into Sunday. Sometimes we could pick him up Saturday night, but usually, because of distance and location, it wasn’t feasible. It became impossible for us to keep the Sabbath as we see it, and be active in the troop’s outings.

    I see an opportunity for serious LDS scouters to start LDS-themed units that would be open to youth of all faiths.

  82. Michael says:

    Many people are asking good questions about what to do now. I don’t know. But I will give you one experience, for perspective.

    When my son entered the first grade, he came home from school one day and announced he wanted to be a tiger scout. I asked the ward scouting guru and he said it was against LDS church policy for him to do scouting before he was 8 years old.That was 2 years in the future. He also claimed we should not let non-members teach values to our children.

    My wife took my son to the first pack meeting and she left a den mother or leader of 12 boys, not of our faith, who would become some of his best friends in coming years. The pack had 140 boys in 12 dens and did a spectacular job with dozens of parents strongly committed to doing their part.

    This pack was associated with a large Baptist church. The Southern Baptists pulled out of scouting years ago and have a parallel youth program to replace it and it doesn’t usually work very well. But some local Baptist churches don’t follow their leaders. For some reason this Baptist church terminated their relationship with scouting after my son’s first year and disbanded the cub pack.

    The 12 den leaders, about half women, met and did research and contacted people at the district for advice. It was not that difficult. They formed their own cub pack sponsored by themselves.The new pack came into existence out on the deck behind my house one Sunday afternoon and continues to thrive to this day.

    My wife has exceptional leadership abilities. She remained a den mother and also became the pack committee chairperson. This pack was successful and started to draw more people from other packs, but it was getting too large.The district looked at what they were doing and the surrounding pack leaders examined us. Some treaties were made and reasonable boundaries were set up. This is an over simplification, but it boiled down to less church interference, more ownership and commitment from parents. Scouting market share in the 6 surrounding grade schools increased from 10% of the boys to 30% of them in a few years.The 5 scout troops also experienced a smaller wave of success. All of this happened within the boundaries of our ward.

    When our son graduated into regular boy scouts at age 11, they had a surprise recognition of the efforts of my wife. Over 150 people gave her a standing ovation and tears streamed down many faces. I will never forget how good we felt at that moment.

    For the record my children were the only Mormons in their grade school most of the time until another LDS family moved into the area. Most everyone knew we were Mormon and some thought that gave us some advantage, that Mormons were strong in scouting. But in the couple of decades since she started the pack, our reputation in scouting as a church has gone down the toilet. Did that really have to happen?

  83. Michael says:

    AK:

    I have been Sunday camping every month (almost) for 15 years.The best, most spiritual experiences I have had in that time were out backpacking in God’s cathedral listening to boys give devotionals. My son once stood on the crest of a ridge and reviewed 3 parables of a certain Jewish teacher (he has Jewish friends in the troop) and how they relate to the scout law.

    I used to sing a song in primary called: “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear,,,,” I used to wonder what it must have felt like to listen to the Savior teach. I got more than a glimpse of it that Sunday when my then 15 year old son taught the pure and plain gospel to his friends. Your son could volunteer to be the chaplain and gain more spiritual substance camping on Sunday once a month than during a year of our 3 hour block program.This has been my experience.\.

  84. Bruce Spencer says:

    Amen AK…

  85. You know, there’s nothing stopping a group of parents from creating their own LDS-influenced, but LDS leadership-free non-profit and doing their own troop. (We’re already plotting one for North Texas for 2020.)

  86. Kim Spencer says:

    I have heard so many of my LDS friends bashing the Scout program since the church made the announcement . My boys love the program and want to finish to get their eagle. all I can say is you only get out of a program what you put into it. The program has taught my boys to be leaders, teachers, public speakers, organizers, it has taught them to respect the law and to be patriotic to their country . To respect the flag. They have learned to be compassionate through service to others and their community. I have been serving as a Den leader and a Merit badge counselor I have been contemplating what I can do when the program ends and your article gave me the Idea and the courage to go on and serve in my community reaching many youth who need my service. Thank you.

  87. Kim Spencer says:

    I have heard so many of my LDS friends bashing the Scout program since the church made the announcement . My boys love the program and want to finish to get their eagle. all I can say is you only get out of a program what you put into it. The program has taught my boys to be leaders, teachers, public speakers, organizers, it has taught them to respect the law and to be patriotic to their country . To respect the flag. They have learned to be compassionate through service to others and their community. I have been serving as a Den leader and a Merit badge counselor I have been contemplating what I can do when the program ends and your article gave me the Idea and the courage to go on and serve in my community reaching many youth who need my service. Thank you so much.

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