In what was sad but not necessarily unexpected news the LDS Church announced today that beginning January 1, 2018, they will no longer be using the Boy Scouts’ Varsity and Venturing programs for their youth activities.
Initial thoughts –
It’s just scouting for the 14-18-year-old young men that’s being dropped. Cub scouts and 11-13-year-old scouts are still around for the time being, though replacements for those are in the works as well.
The change will take effect next January, but if older boys still want to work towards the Eagle rank they can still be chartered with the 12-13-year-old boys’ troop for as long as they’d like.
Which means all you LDS Scouters still get to do the annual rechartering process as well as the Friends of Scouting fundraising drive. Yay.
I think it’s obvious the recent changes to scouting had an effect on this decision, but the Church’s announcement also brings up a few other reasons I found interesting.
Wards have discretion on how much they spend on programs, and in my experience, the youth program budgets have been about the same. But I never really thought about how much Church headquarters gives to the Boy Scout organization beyond what is spent on just local activities. This makes Scouting even more expensive, and as such more is spent on it than on programs for the young women or for youth in other countries where the scouting program doesn’t exist or isn’t used. This move frees up funds to equalize that funding.
It also talks about how scouting kind of fails (or we failed scouting) as the young men hit 14 and beyond. There hasn’t really been buy-in for the scouts’ Venturing and Varsity programs at a local leadership level so the activities and activity level drops off. I saw it as a youth myself and as an adult leader and have been frustrated by it. I hope the new program will help in that area.
All that being said, I still think the outside forces that pressured the BSA to change pretty fundamental policies had an outsized impact on the LDS Church’s decision. The Boy Scouts stopped standing for what they’d stood for over a century and those values were kind of what linked the LDS Church to them for so long in the first place. The BSA reacted to pressure by passing the buck to its individual charter organizations, and if that’s going to be the case then what’s the point in chartering with them?
The Church announced two years ago that it was developing its own program and at that time I wrote this.
I reread it this morning and still feel the same way. I’m sad to see our relationship with the Boy Scouts end but look forward to other, hopefully, better ways to involve and teach our youth.