Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

LDS and BSA part ways. Sort of.

May 11th, 2017 by Bookslinger

LDS readers will get this elsewhere, but for our non-LDS readers….

The church has announced that as of Jan 1st, 2018, it will no longer charter/register Varsity Scouts and Venturing.  This only affects Youth age 14 and up.  Programs for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts through age 13 will continue.  Merit badges and rank advancement will also continue for those age 14-up for those who want to.

This only applies to USA and Canada.

Details here: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/questions-answers-changes-young-men-program

There is a link to a pdf of the official church announcement at that web page.

I’ve never been involved with the YM (Young Men) programs at church, so I’m ignorant of what all the changes will entail, or how the merit badges and rank advancment (only) will work out.

Comments (42)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , ,
May 11th, 2017 16:32:03
42 comments

C
May 11, 2017

I wonder how much this effects the BSA financially. The church if getting more for the buck this way since I’ve participation was sporadic and dues the same for the older youth.

That’s potentially $2-4million I assume the Boy Scouts was dependent on to pay the bills. I assume it was not all variable cost and will leave a big shortfall.


Zen
May 11, 2017

This will not affect BSA financially, since the Church didn’t do much with these programs to begin with.

Truth is, this sounds like more than it really is. Not that much is really going to change in practice.

But I also think it is a reminder to the BSA that we can and will leave, if we think it is in the best interest of the Youth. It might be good for them to have this reminder.


Ivan Wolfe
May 11, 2017

In the news articles I’ve read, the Church states it will pay the normal amount to the BSA in 2018, in order to give them a year to get ready for the financial shortfall,


JRL in AZ
May 11, 2017

In my experience, I think it will affect the Church a little, since I have never seen Venture and Varsity actually implemented. I imagine it will affect BSA a lot because the Church was paying to register all those boys, even though the program wasn’t being done week to week.


Bruce Charlton
May 12, 2017

One concern is that the Q&A on the LDS website was written in management speak, and came across as being strategically evasive and misleading.

The concern is that this way of writing is a symptom – a product of a way of thinking.

So far the CJCLDS has mostly avoided this way of thinking, and writing – but the pressure to conform to secular ways of thinking is always there; and management speak is a sign of worldly corruption.


MC
May 12, 2017

BC,

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m a lawyer and thus inured to carefully worded statements, but I didn’t see the Q&A as evasive. I really believe this move is due to program needs and not social issues. They’ve been looking at this for years because older boys simply lose interest in scouting. At most I would guess that the social issues softened the resolve of more pro-scouting church leaders.


John Mansfield
May 12, 2017

Church policy had been “Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, young men ages 12 to 15 should be registered. Young men ages 16 and 17 should be registered if they are pursuing rank advancements or if the stake president or bishop chooses to sponsor Scouting programs for young men of this age.” Does anyone remember how long ago it was that this became the policy for the priests quorum?


G.
May 12, 2017

I share a bit of @Bruce’s concern. I have a feeling that the Church PR department is structurally speaking not on the side of the angels.

It reminds me of the bit in Screwtape about getting the man to always be thinking of how he can best avoid death while still doing his duty. Possibly the desire to keep being who you are while avoiding bad publicity has the same sort of dangers. Some needles should not be threaded.


John Mansfield
May 12, 2017

Registration fees come up in discussion of this, and I thought of them as fairly minor, but I looked them up and was surprised that BSA now collects $24 annually for each boy and adult leader. The fee was $7 before 2003, with increases to $10 in 2003, $15 in 2010, and $24 in 2014. At the $24 level (to be raised another 50% when?), the church is paying as more to BSA than it sends to the wards to carry out YM programs.


Zen
May 12, 2017

Given the relative social velocities of both the BSA and the Church, separation is a matter of time, not a matter of if.


JRL in AZ
May 12, 2017

I have loved Scouts, but now I hope that the rest of the separation – the 8- to 13-year-olds – will be complete before my next boy turns 8. That would just be convenient.


JRL in AZ
May 12, 2017

And we can still do our own Pinewood Derbies, so we’ll be fine. After all, the ward or stake owns the track already…


Bookslinger
May 12, 2017

I discussed this with a non-LDS friend who volunteers with scouts at the council level.

He said there is a group of progressives inside BSA corporate who are actively working to subvert, perhaps destroy, the organization. He sounded just like BC at his gloomiest/scariest. Those are the ones who pushed the gay/transgender changes within BSA.


Lucinda
May 13, 2017

When I served as Primary President, it was a difficulty to fill scout leader callings because of all the extra certification required. Even I was supposed to go to various training and certification events in order to be a “qualified” leader of scout leaders. At least that’s what I remember told me. I didn’t do it because I was busy with three kids under 4 and was expecting my fourth.

When my oldest became a cub scout, I thought it was fun for a while, but I could see that there wasn’t going to be long-term viability, so I stopped sending him, and when my second son was old enough, I didn’t bother getting him started. The idea was, “The church is not going to be able to stay with the BSA, and I don’t want my boys to feel conflicted about that when it happens.”

So I’m kind of relieved that we won’t have to be justifying our non-participation as much to other members. I look forward to the full separation.

I was disappointed by the PR evasiveness, but I don’t worry about it because there are just too many things the church “can’t” say, and I don’t mind them choosing their battles. The church is the bride, not the husband. And the feminine comparison implies that in some things, she just has to get along in order to survive so her children can mature enough to be independent. That’s my way of seeing it.


Zen
May 13, 2017

@Lucinda – wow! That was a great comparison with the Bride and the female perspective. I would never have seen that in a million years, by myself. Thanks for sharing.


Dq
May 14, 2017

The church could say that it’s struggled for years to get older kids to car about scouting and done it by and large effectually. And that why should the church continue to struggle for an organization that’s departing from it’s values?

It could say those things. But serves no pr purpose. You can be sure the church did say as much at some levels in the organization. But the church doesn’t like to air dirty laundry.

It won’t publicly advocate against the scouts just like it doesn’t want to be publicly advocated against by its own membership.

Consider this a lesson for church members in how to publicly distance yourself from an organization you support without organizing ordain woman boycotts and conference shouting matches.


Dq
May 14, 2017

Done it by and large INeffectually.


G.
May 14, 2017

@Dq, @Lucinda,
top notch.


Vader
May 14, 2017

I found this quite revealing, in its way:

“Is this a reaction to the news that the Boy Scouts of America is considering the inclusion of girls and young women in its programs?

Church leaders learned just recently about the BSA’s intent to consider including girls and young women in Scouting. Our decision to end our participation in the Varsity and Venturing programs was made independent of this possibility and before that time.”

Somehow this move was made without the Church, one of the leading supporters of Scouting up until now, being in the loop. But obviously they saw the writing on the wall.


Laserguyet
May 14, 2017

Bc,
I personally am not bothered by the church employing lawyers who use legalese… Jesus told his disciples to be wise as serpents.
I also see a way to make their statement 100% honest, yet deflective. For many years the church had been aware that older scouts aren’t very motivated. Recently the bsa has been abandoning its principles and accepting fiction as reality. The church decides to move older scouts away and claims it has nothing to do with the gay issues, which technically may be true. Moving older scouts away may not, but the eventual removal from scouts will have something, and thank heavens the ball is rolling.

I envision during the transition that some scouts will be allowed to go all the way to eagle even after they turn 14… And that after the new program is announced there will be some backwards compatibility, essentially substitutions allowed, until all scouts are phased out.

The real question, is if the program they build will be so rigid as to not allow folks of other Faith’s, as the trail builders currently excluding mormons.


Bookslinger
May 15, 2017

Recently heard speculation that the final straw was transgenderism. SSA-and-celibate, the church can handle.

The forces of subversion are trying to work from within organizations. (Note OW and the Chelsea Shields TED talk.) And the Brethren see their tactics and know where the attacks are going to come from. A commenter on M* figured out that baptized children of same sex couples would eventually want their same sex parents sealed by proxy (unless that person disavowed SSM as an adult prior to baptism.) If a church-chartered troop accepted a TG scout, which is tacitly consenting that a f-to-m TG is a male, eventually TGs would press for ordination to the priesthood.

I don’t know what CHI says now about TG persons, but it used to say that they could be baptized but not ordained.

It is not necessary to publicize all the reasons for dropping Varsity/Venture Scouting when the stated reasons are sufficient in themselves.


John Mansfield
May 15, 2017

Utah Valley Problems, as reported by the Provo Daily Herald:

“A potential drop in Eagle Scout projects could affect many nonprofit organizations, schools, hospitals and cities.

“Data provided by the Utah National Parks Council to the Daily Herald during the last 12 months shows Alpine School District was one the largest recipients of Eagle Scout service, with well over 40 projects completed at schools across the district.”

[. . .]

“Eagle Scout projects are very important to nonprofit organizations. Bill Hulterstrom, president and CEO of United Way of Utah County, said it could change a lot of things.

“‘It has a real impact on how we get things done,’ Hulterstrom said. ‘Our community will need to figure out a new way to get volunteer projects.’

“In the Utah National Parks Council data, Utah Valley Hospital benefited from more than 20 Eagle Scout projects at its campus in the last year.”


JRL in AZ
May 15, 2017

About Eagle projects: We have go to make sure that our young men are still doing big and hard service projects that will make a difference. That is one thing that we will need to push as leaders – they still need to stretch themselves in service.


Zen
May 15, 2017

After all this well-deserved BSA bashing, let me offer a counter-argument, by way of Scott Alexander.
http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/01/neutral-vs-conservative-the-eternal-struggle/

He discusses how the Right has tried to create its own social institutions, and how this has not gone well.

The money quote is “The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.”

This suggests to me, that while we might need to leave the BSA, this is not something that will easily be replaced. Eg., see the BSA replacements that are anti-monopoly.


Zen
May 15, 2017

Anti-Mormon… &#@$ auto-correct


Bookslinger
May 15, 2017

My take is that YM in the church will always be able to get their Eagle as long as the church maintains troops for the 10 to 13 year olds. IE, a 12-year old in the church today will still be able to progress to Eagle after Jan 1, 2018, as long as his ward has the base level troop for 10 to 13 year olds.

And, if a family wants to continue in scouts after their ward closes the Jr scout troop, they could do scouting at other wards, or other chartering bodies that meet on nights other than church youth night.

Anyway, that’s my take.


T. Greer
May 16, 2017

I am a bit younger than most people here.

I say good riddance.

Not because I hated scouting–but I have long been distraught with what scouting has become. Compare a manual from the 1930s with one published now. The skills and knowledge in the new book simply doesn’t compare. You learn very little in the Boy Scouts.

I left the organization in disgust as a Life Scout. Still went to activities and camp-outs, but saw no purpose in getting to Eagle. Oh how my parents argued with me! But the truth was I had seen too many Eagle Scouts who didn’t deserve the term. 14 year olds whose leaders baby-stepped through the entire thing. 300 pound kids who shouldn’t have earned a Physical Fitness or Swimming merit badge. Eagle Scout projects that were nothing more than painting lines at a Church parking lot. The award doesn’t mean anything to me. It still doesn’t.

Later on I gained more perspective, and with it greater sympathy for both what the leaders and the scouts were doing with all of that. No, those kids didn’t compare to what a Boy Scout was in the 1920s. But that was never the point: the point was bring these young men to Christ, and to create a community where that sort of thing is possible.

But if that is the case the entire Boy Scouts part of it is not necessary. Better to create a youth program more closely adapted to the abilities and interests of the youth in a ward than to force them through a watered down version of an already watered down Scouting experience. If kids want to do the whole outdoorsman thing, they should have opportunities to do so–I just have a hard time justifying the Church unit as the ideal mover there.


T. Greer
May 16, 2017

There is only one thing I will miss in this, and I hope that bishops will be wise enough to find a replacement: the calling of scout master was an ideal way to get less active fathers, part member family members, and neighbors involved in the local Ward. Precisely because it was a program from outside the Church, it was something these folks could get involved in without usual reservations. I’ve advocated giving non-members “assignments” (in lieu of “callings”) for a long time now, but in most wards this was the only one Bishops ever gave. The position is gone for the 14+ group, and on the way out for those younger. Hopefully Bishops will respond by looking for other opportunities for these folks to serve, instead of foresaking the challenge entirely.


G.
May 16, 2017

I hear you, @T. Greer. I hope that too. But there are structural reasons why it will be hard to achieve the same effect without the Boy Scouts. They had a brand, or social capital, however you want to describe it.


John Mansfield
May 16, 2017

T. Greer reminds me of a couple things I’ve seen at scout camps. The first is that for archery the boys are no longer allowed to build an arrow and shoot it, formerly a merit badge requirement. Now they build something eight inches long that looks like an arrow and admire it. The second is that for pioneering (building bridges and towers out of logs and rope) the boys are now not allowed to be more than four feet above the ground. A large component of scouting used to be the boys taking on tasks that could be hazardous if done improperly, such as a hike in the wilderness, and learning that they could master skills and subdue the hazards. That doesn’t fit with the spirit of the times.


Zen
May 16, 2017

Part of that is the toxic legal environment we live in now. My hometown ward back in Idaho used to have a 24th of July Rodeo. But because liability issues, it was permanently cancelled. When we had an injury, we dealt with it ourselves, for instance one of the boys was Sheep-busting, which means trying not get bucked off a sheep, which seemed appropriate for little kids. But this particular sheep decided to run, while at top speed, said child ran smack into a support beam.

This kind of thing was normally handled by parents and there was not an issue. But that was a greater and greater risk, in the legal environment we have now, so we had to discontinue it. So, while BSA has issues, we can’t completely blame them on this one.


T. Greer
May 16, 2017

But it does raise the question: if we can’t turn to BSA to learn the skills and have true orienteering, pioneering, survival experiences, etc., then where can we turn?

I admit I still feel a little bitter about this. Here are things I have always wanted to master, but never did… despite being a boy-scout. How am I supposed to teach my future sons things I never learned? It just makes me sad.


Ivan Wolfe
May 16, 2017

When we had good scout leaders, it was an amazing program. When we had bad ones – well, it was basically “play basketball every week.” I sure hope many YM programs don’t default to that now.

My dad (who was an excellent scoutmaster) once said something like “there are easily a dozen men in this ward who would make excellent bishops, and most of them would make decent stake presidents as well. Not a one would make a halfway decent scountmaster.”


Lucinda
May 16, 2017

@T. Greer.

You said, “Here are things I have always wanted to master, but never did… despite being a boy-scout. How am I supposed to teach my future sons things I never learned? It just makes me sad.” That is so right on. One of the reasons I’m glad for the church to cut ties with BSA is because it won’t be getting in the way, making people think something is happening that is not happening.

The kind of manliness required for civilizational survival must be taught, preferably from father to son. BSA stood as a stand-in father for so long that many have forgotten what needed to be remembered. BSA has been symbolic of what has gone wrong: Men out-sourcing an important aspect of teaching their sons, but it turns out that the stand-in actually doesn’t care about the sons the same way a father would… hireling as the scriptures say.

My husband is in much the same position as you, despite being an eagle scout. He wants to be a leader for his sons, but he regrets not having more skills. Happily, a lot of the scouting stuff gets worked out just by going out a giving it a try, learning from failures (with some good ideas from youtube.)


Galadriel
May 16, 2017

@T Greer

What do you tell your future sons?


The world is changed
I feel it in the water
I feel it in the earth
I smell it in the air

Much that once was is lost
For none now live who remember it


Lucinda
May 16, 2017

In fact, one of the cool things this last winter was when my husband and 3 oldest sons (13, 10, 7) made a fire together and cooked a dutch oven meal.

Within the BSA/church setting, my oldest two sons would be in separate dens, my third son wouldn’t have been old enough, and my husband probably wouldn’t have been involved at all. Even if he’d been there, he would have stayed on the side lines because he’s not really the take-charge type. But with his own sons, he didn’t have to feel social embarrassment if his skills were more than a little rusty. Even though he’s not the “natural leader” type, his own sons look to him for direction. Even with just his sons, he let them try and try to get the fire started (my oldest has more of a take-charge personality), and when they’d given up and decided it was impossible, my husband was able to be the one who finally got the fire going, because he refused to give up.

So even though BSA got some dads involved, I feel it probably pushed other dads to the side.


John Mansfield
May 16, 2017

Clannish cousin-marriage that way lies, in the direction of separating into our tight little outsider-proof family circles. I take my sons on outings with just me and them. I go with them on scout outings sometimes. And sometimes I deliberately stay away from outings they go on so they will also have experiences without me.


Bookslinger
May 16, 2017

“Much that once was is lost
For none now live who remember it”

The Nephite babies (who spoke, etc.) were the last eye-witnesses to Christ’s appearance.

Their grand-kids were the last ones to receive first-hand testimony.

The grand-kids of the grand-kids of the babies-who-spoke were the last to receive 2nd-hand testimony, and they were the last fully righteous generation.

It was the babies’ grand-kids who told their living descendents “My grand-pappy and grand-ma told me that they were there when Christ the Lord came! They remembered it because angels came, and gave all the babies and little children the gift of talking like a grown up.”

The grand-kids of the grand-kids could technically pass on the story. But the scintillation dies out when those who received first-hand accounts die out. The grand-kids of the talking babies were the last ones to be excited about it. The grand-kids of the grand-kids were the last to hear the story with excitement, and were a righteous generation, but now it was second-hand as the testimony came to them. They could not pass it along with the same excitement. With them, it was now third-hand at best.

A child may know or at least can imagine his grandfather’s father. But a grandfather’s grandfather doesn’t carry the same impact. (This is why journals are so important, to keep the impact going.)

When I joined the church, Elder LeGrand Richards was alive. He knew people who knew Brigham Young. With Richards’ passing Brigham Young became more remote, as all the people who had received first hand testimony of Brigham Young were gone.


Zen
May 16, 2017

Perhaps it is for the best then, that we are so far removed from the Generation that knew Joseph and Brigham. Our testimony will either stand on its own two feet, or it will fall. We will only be able to do what we need to do, if we know for ourselves, instead of relying on other’s experiences.


John Mansfield
May 17, 2017

Here is a link that I am leaving to remind myself to look back at the numbers in three years:

http://www.sltrib.com/home/3676060-155/utah-effect-states-boys-are-10

“For the seventh consecutive year, for reasons that are likely obvious to most Utahns, the 33rd largest state produced more Eagle Scouts than any other.

“But about 1,000 fewer Utah Scouts earned the prized medal in 2015 than in 2010, amid reports of declining contributions and a 2015 statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that it was ‘deeply troubled’ by the Scouts’ vote to end a ban on openly gay adult leaders.

“A comparison of the latest U.S. Census population estimates with data shared by the Boy Scouts of America shows that a Utah boy was more than 10 times as likely as his American peers to become an Eagle Scout in 2015.

“That’s no surprise given that Utah is home to about 200,000 of the nation’s 2.3 million Boy Scouts. Put another way: One in 15 Utahns is currently a Cub or Boy Scout. Add in the gender and age requirements, and that’s more than half the eligible population.

“And while Utah’s total of 5,765 is its second lowest in six years (with a high of 6,722 in 2010), it’s an increase from the eight-year nadir of 5,480 in 2014 — which would still have been a bumper crop for any other state.”


Lucinda
May 17, 2017

@ John Mansfield “Clannish cousin-marriage that way lies”

Maybe. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Everyone has more than a few ancestors surviving desperate times by consolidating socially. It’s not like I wouldn’t prefer to live in a healthy society with good long-term prospects. But that’s not what we’ve got.

Part of my point, though, is that even though my husband is decidedly not scout-ly, and would likely not have been involved with his sons in that domain, he went ahead and got involved.

Scouting has become somewhat professionalized, those who do and those who don’t, and the actual awards don’t seem to reflect any real skills. (It’s like a mini example of the credentialism problem.) I’m no enemy of scouting. I would love for real competent scouts to become more abundant. BSA, on the other hand, has become an enemy of scouting.


Bookslinger
May 17, 2017

If families and priesthood quorums functioned as they should, formal BSA programs would not be necessary. We have the organization and people. We have the injunction to “teach one another.”

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. If a ward does not have a critical mass of young men, they can combine with other wards in the same building, or nearby, in whatever formal program the Brethren put in place.

Our stake includes two chapels that have three wards each in them. Those three ward combos would make an awesome BSA troop, or a group of whatever the Brethren put in place.

Whenever I hear a recent convert say “we ought to have a program or system to…” , I usually respond “We do. It’s called Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching, and Elders’ Quorum/High Priests and Relief Society.”

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