Utah Boy Scouts of America reacts to announcement by LDS Church

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Mormon boy scouts saluting
Boy Scouts salute during the Stadium of Fire in Provo, Utah on July 3, 2010. The Mormon church, the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, announced Thursday, May 11, 2017, it is pulling as many as 185,000 older youths from the organization. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

The Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America said it will continue to support and serve the needs of the LDS Church after the May 11 announcement that the church will no longer participate in the Varsity and Venturing programs.

The split will officially begin on January 1, 2018 for youth ages 14 through 18, but will not affect the church’s participation in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys ages 8 through 13.

“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,” a press release from the LDS Church said.

Stan Lockhart, former president of the Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said the Boy Scouts will focus on their goal of helping young men become “contributing members of society and community leaders” despite potentially losing some older participants.

“Frankly, scouting is the most effective for the age groups that are still being served, so I’m not sure to what extent it’ll be affected,” Lockhart said.

According to Lockhart, most of the advancement in the Boy Scouts occurs between the ages of 11 and 14.

“Boys do most of the work by that age already and then procrastinate the last little bit they need to do to get their Eagle until they’re getting close to 18,” Lockhart said. “This will put a renewed emphasis on advancement at the early ages.”

press release from the Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America said it will continue scouting programs and facilities used by older LDS youth in the past.

We will continue to expand our efforts to provide resources and facilities that specifically serve older youth to help local wards and stakes provide high quality programs for their youth classes and quorums,” the press release said. 

John Gailey, spokesperson of the Utah National Parks Council, said the announcement is the result of continual adaptations between the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts to find the best solutions for LDS youth.

“We have seen that a very small percentage of the current LDS Varsity Teams and Venturing Crews run the defined program and that is not the objective,” Gailey said. “The objective is to positively affect the youth. The Utah National Parks Council is and always will be committed to helping the LDS Church serve their youth.”

The Utah Council of Boy Scouts said it looks forward to serving youth of all ages who want to continue in the Boy Scout program, especially those on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout.

Of those who earn the Eagle Scout award in our council, 93 percent complete the requirements at age 14 or older and 67 percent attain the Eagle rank after age 16,” the press release said.

Despite the changes, Lockhart said the Boy Scouts will continue to give the LDS Church “the finest experience we can give them.”

“We’ll continue doing what we’ve always done, which is provide the opportunity for boys to grow and develop,” Lockhart said.