Elder Holland: Scout leaders have been ‘understanding, kind’ regarding LDS decision to halt programs for older teens

The First Presidency announced on May 11 that the Church will discontinue involvement in the Boy Scouts of America Varsity and Venturing programs.

Latter-day Saint boys and young men living in the United States and Canada — ages 8 through 13 — will continue to participate in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs.

The change becomes effective Jan. 1, 2018, and will allow youth leaders to implement a simplified program that meets local needs and provides activities that balance spiritual, social, physical and intellectual developmental goals for young men, according to a Church statement release on Thursday, May 11.

The announced changes will only affect young men, ages 14 through 18, living in the United States and Canada.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serves as the Church’s representative as a National Executive Board Member of the Boy Scouts of America.

“I wish to commend the BSA leaders who have been so supportive of the Church’s decision to cease participating in the Varsity and Venturing programs,” he said. “They have been understanding, kind and very professional. We are grateful for their interest in us, in our youth, and in our worldwide need.”

The Church “continues to work toward developing a program for young men and young women globally,” according to the statement. The Church will remain with the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs because they “meet the development program needs of boys from ages 8 through 13.”

“We are grateful for [the BSA’s] continued support with this new change and look forward to continuing our strong relationship in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs,” the statement noted.

Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men general president stated, “With this new focus, leaders will have a program that meets the diverse interests of young men, develops important life skills and deepens conversion.”

Charles Dahlquist, BSA’s national commissioner, told the Church News he is confident that the Church will implement an inspired, enlightened future activity program for teacher and priest quorums.

Brother Dahlquist, former Young Men general president (2004-2009), said chartering organizations such as the Church can choose which Scouting programs to utilize.

The discontinuation of the Varsity and Venturing programs will not occur until Jan. 1, 2018, so local units are encouraged to continue with their planned activities as they review and determine how they will implement the new activity guidelines.

Young men who desire to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged.

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

Youth leaders across the globe can find activity ideas at lds.org/youth/activities and ymactivities.lds.org. These sites have been in place for several years and offer activity suggestions to provide opportunities for spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual growth.