Source. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that starting on January 1, 2020, it will shift the focus of its youth programs toward serving an increasingly global membership. That means the LDS church will no longer charter Scout units beginning in 2020 and beyond.
Following is some information for the thousands of LDS families who love being a part of the Scouting adventure and want to continue their journey and for the other BSA Scouters who want to help them do that.
A path to stay in Scouting for LDS families
The long-standing relationship between the BSA and the LDS church won’t continue in a formal capacity, but it certainly will live on in LDS families where Scouting has become a strong and vibrant tradition. Some LDS families have a multigenerational Scouting tradition. Others share a newly discovered passion for Scouting. All who want to continue their Scouting journey are more than welcome to do so.
“All youth, families and leaders are encouraged to continue their active participation and financial support of Scouting … ,” the LDS church in its joint statement with the BSA expressed that it will continue to support Scouting even after its official partnership has ended.
“While the church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units after December 31, 2019, it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead,” according to the statement.
For LDS church members looking for a new Scouting home
Source. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can explore the BSA’s unit locator tool, found at BeAScout.org to find a new Scout unit. Families can enter their zip code, and the site shows the closest Cub Scout packs, Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships. (This is a good reminder to unit leaders to make sure your BeAScout pin is up to date!)
Once families have identified a few nearby units, here are a few more steps:
- Visit more than one unit. “You might find that one suits your family more than another one, even if it’s a bit farther away,” she says. “Not all units Scout the same way.”
- Visit your top unit more than once.
- Take the family and a friend to the unit meeting.
- Ask questions and get contact information. “Getting contact information from their New Member Coordinator means that you can ask questions when you get home,” Mayfield says. “Not all questions come to mind while at the meeting.”
For community packs and troops welcoming LDS church members
Source. All packs and troops should have a New Member Coordinator (learn more here and on Scouting Magazine’s ScoutCast podcast.)
“It’s a relatively new position — but one that is extremely valuable,” Mayfield says. “This person, or group of people, can have a variety of responsibilities and can help new families feel welcome when they arrive for meetings or events.”
She offers these reminders about the New Member Coordinator:
- The New Member Coordinator doesn’t wear a uniform because a new family might feel more comfortable being welcomed by someone in casual clothing. The BSA has a whole line of New Member Coordinator accessories to help you be identified.
- Provide new families with a welcome packet that includes information about the unit, meetings, outings, fundraising, membership, uniforming and more.
- Sit with the new family during the meeting, get their contact information and invite them back for the new meeting. “I hand them my business card with my information and get their cell number and text them a thank you right away,” Mayfield says.
Beyond the importance of a New Member Coordinator, Mayfield offers three more tips:
- Keep your website and social media accounts up to date. When families who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are looking for a new unit, they’ll likely scout you out online.
- Be warm, welcoming and willing to talk. Latter-day Saints understand the aims and methods of Scouting, but because of the unique nature of their involvement, there are some aspects of Scouting they haven’t experienced. For example, they might be less familiar with recruitment strategies or fundraising projects.
- Welcome people the way that you welcome them. For Mayfield, that’s baking. “I’ll make cookies, cupcakes and even cakes to welcome people,” she says. “There’s nothing quite like the personal touch of having a treat delivered to your door.”
Recruiting Scouts currently enrolled in LDS units
Source. Community-based packs and troops may recruite youth from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS youth are encouraged to remain in their Latter-day-Saint-sponsored Scouting unit through December 31, 2019.
BSA volunteers may provide a church-approved flyer for recruiting Latter-day Saints boys to their packs and troops. The flyers must be provided to bishops and branch presidents, who will direct them to be posted on bulletin boards in church meetinghouses through 12/31/19. Those flyers are not to include images that identify the church or quotes from church leaders.
BSA recruiting of church members should be done directly with families and not in church meetinghouses.
About the BSA and the LDS church
Source. Throughout the BSA’s relationship with the LDS church, LDS Scouts have benefited from the BSA’s life-changing programs. Hundreds of thousands of LDS young men have become Eagle Scouts.
The BSA, in its official statement, said, “we jointly express our gratitude to the thousands of Scout leaders who have selflessly served over the years in church-sponsored Scouting units and wish the church all the best as it prepares to introduce the new program in 2020.” The BSA has begun working with all of its councils to help ensure a smooth transition for the many LDS families who will continue their Scouting journey.
Three Reasons our Family will Still be in Scouting in 2020
. Last year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would discontinue its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and introduce a worldwide youth program in 2020. While our family fully plans to embrace the new Church Child and Youth Development Initiative, we also intend to continue our participation in Scouting. Here’s why:
Reason #1: Structure.
The Boy Scouts of America has been around for over a century, and the BSA has proven its worth as a structured program. This structure is a remarkable support to both Scouting leaders and Scouting families. Regular quality activities, handbooks full of information, and leader specific trainings all provide a tried and true ladder guiding youth to leadership, character, citizenship and fitness.
BSA programs—Cub Scouting thru Venturing—are based and built on age-appropriate activities, like stepping stones. My Cub Scout learns to handle a pocket knife, my Boy Scout earns the Woodcarving Merit Badge. My younger son takes a mile hike with his den, my older son hikes for 30 miles with his troop. You get the picture. My children are benefitting from a program shaped and tested for decades, with applicable achievements for each group, and all under an umbrella of specially trained leaders. Scouting is a safe place to learn and grow.
Additionally, I love that Scouting youth have requirements—steps that must be followed—and hard tasks to complete. As humans, we rarely choose to over-extend ourselves, but the organization of Scouting gently and consistently compels youth to climb higher, be better, and accomplish hard things. In a world becoming increasingly wishy-washy and self-centered, I find the structure of Scouting remarkable and helpful to my parenting efforts.
Reason #2: Skills.
Scouting is all about skills—building fires, camping, backpacking, tying knots, pitching tents, cooking, swimming, lifesaving, first aid. The list of Scouting skills is endless! Take a glance at the 137 merit badges offered to understand the full gamut of opportunities available to Scouts. Where pushing buttons with thumbs has become an all-to-common society staple for youth, I am grateful for skills taught through the BSA programs.
“Outing” is a key component of Scouting. Leave the lethargy and apathy at the door and step into adventure: rock-climbing, rappelling, canoeing, biking, rafting… the list goes on and on.vAnd the fun isn’t just for the older youth. Last week our Cub Scouts learned and played the iconic game of marbles. Imagine seven 9-year-olds, squealing, laughing and cheering as their marbles rolled across the dirt. And in the preceding weeks our Cub Scouts hiked, whittled with pocket knives, cooked over a fire, constructed with carpentry tools, pitched tents, conducted science experiments, practiced safety, and built contraptions with simple machines. Scouting is all about skills.
The skills lead me to Reason #3: Substance.
Scouting is chock-full of substance. Let’s face it; there are a million and one extra-curricular options for kids today. But I can’t think of another activity, club, pastime, team or sport based on Duty to God, Country, and Family. Each week I watch Cub Scouts raise their arms in the Scout Sign and recite the century-old Oath and Law—promising to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind…the iconic list goes on.
When any youth commits to Scouting values, we’ve won a battle for our future. Like I’ve said before, our time as a family is precious, yet the substance—the values and character-building opportunities—offered through BSA programs put Scouting at the top of our extra-curricular list.
And my fourth point—if I may have one—is Patriotism.
No one does patriotism like the Boy Scouts of America. Two weeks ago I stood with over 100 other observers at a campfire. The sky was crystal clear. The stars shone brightly. The full moon came up over the ridge. The fire glowed orange and red. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque evening. Around the campfire stood eight solemn Boy Scouts. With all the respect they could muster, they displayed a flag, tattered and torn. Then, while the audience watched, they shared history in broken and emotional tones, before respectfully retiring the flag in the flames.
The audience was completely silent, engulfed in the emotion of the moment. My 12-year-old son was one of the boys by the fire. Four of his younger siblings watched him participate in that sacred event. It was worth gold to me to know that he had set a standard of respect for our family as he handled the American flag that evening. Yes, no one does patriotism like the Boy Scouts of America.
Will the partnership between the Church and the BSA end in December? Yes. But for our family Scouting will go on. The structure, skills, substance and patriotism offered by the BSA are—in my mind—indispensable. It is my belief that Scouting will compliment—not compete with—any other extra-curricular activity, including the forthcoming Church initiative.
Our family looks forward to another century of citizenship, fitness, leadership, and character through the Boy Scouts of America. In 2020 we will Still be Scouting.
Former National Commissioner Charles Dahlquist on the BSA-LDS Relationship
Source. The Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) share a deep commitment to developing young boys into strong, moral, ethical men. I believe the bond between the BSA and the LDS Church is as strong today as it began back in 1913 when the Church became the first sponsor of a local Scouting unit.
This week, the Church announced it will no longer offer Venturing and Varsity programs to older boys, rather refocusing its programming for young men around local Church activities that promote spiritual and personal growth and development. As we all know, we offer a variety of programs from Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to STEM Scouts and Venturing, and our chartered partners are in the best position to decide which programs most appropriately meet the needs of the youth they serve. We recognize that not all programs are a perfect fit for all partners. As we continue to work closely with all of our partners, the Boy Scouts of America will ensure that no boy who wishes to join the Scouting movement will miss out on the positive life opportunities of being a Scout.
The Church will continue Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting. In nearly all cases, Varsity and Venturing participants registered at local Church wards are also registered in Boy Scouts. I know Church families and young men are thrilled to see this important partnership continue.
Those of us in the Scouting community who also belong to the LDS Church understand the mutual respect and passion we share for developing young men as we see it firsthand every day. Our relationship dates back to the very beginning of the Scouting movement and in 2013 the Church proudly celebrated 100 years of Scouting. We look forward to another century of partnering with an institution so deeply committed to values and the development of young men.
Today’s relationship between Scouting and the Church is strong because we know our programs work well together. We see the results of young men who have gone through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and the impact these programs have on their families and communities.
A Tufts University study of kids ages 6-12 found that youth who participate in Scouting for even a short period of time exhibit strong moral values and positive character attributes, allowing them to embrace new opportunities, overcome obstacles and become better prepared for future success.
I have always appreciated the BSA’s commitment to supporting the Church, and all of its religious partners, in every way possible. The Church has always been able to run its Scouting programs according to its beliefs and standards, and at a core level, the Church’s goals to shape young men matches the BSA’s own moral and ethical mission. That commitment has not changed, and we continue to view Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts as programs that effectively serve the young men and families in the LDS Church.
The Value of Service through Scouting
Over the past century, the LDS Church has made Scouting an integral tool in shaping young men’s outlook on community. In 2016, Scouts commitment to community service nationwide surpassed 15 million hours. What an amazing accomplishment for our Scouting community and for our youth. I can’t help but be moved by the countless instances where a Boy Scout’s selfless service made a big impact on a neighbor’s life or helped improve his community in a very real and personal way.
Scouting Continues to Shape Tomorrow’s Leaders
In addition to service, it is clear that young LDS men who participate in Scouting gain valuable lessons in leadership that begin in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts that ultimately shape their path to adulthood. Countless Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts are currently serving their Church mission in locations across the globe and I know each are putting the values and lessons learned at their local Boy Scouts Troop, or on a Scouting camping trip or outing, to good use. Those of us active in the Scouting community recognize, and I believe the LDS Church agrees, that Boy Scout programs set up our youth participants for success.
Former LDS Church President Gordon Hinckley once said, “If every boy in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country. This program builds boys, builds their futures, leads them on the right path so they can make something of their lives. Every man or woman who helps a boy along the road of life not only does a great thing for him but does a great thing for society as a whole.”
I know President Hinckley’s message rings true today. I look forward to working with you, the larger Scouting community, and the LDS Church to offer programs that serve our young men and their families.
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