IDAHO FALLS — The Grand Teton Council of the Boy Scouts of America will lose about 30 percent of its members after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday that it would no longer participate in Varsity and Venturing BSA programs.
The LDS Church will shift its focus from scouting for boys ages 14 to 18 to the church’s young men program beginning Jan. 1, 2018. That program is being restructured by the church.
“I’m not sure how this will directly affect us honestly,” Grand Teton Council Scout Executive Clarke Farrer tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Frankly this is a surprise and we have a lot that needs to be worked out.”
Farrer says of the nearly 23,000 youth in the Grand Teton Council, around 7,000 are between 14 and 18.
“Any company that takes that big of loss is going to feel it,” Farrer said, stating it’s unclear how the church’s decision will impact the local BSA council financially.
The church will continue to make the same payment to the BSA for registration of its young men through 2018.
The change will not affect the Cub Scout or Boy Scout programs for the LDS church. Should the church ever completely pull out of scouting, Farrer says the effect would be “devastating” and the council would lose an estimated 20,000 boys.
According to the LDS church, in most U.S. and Canadian congregations, young men between 14 to 18 are not being served well by the Varsity or Venturing programs, which have historically been difficult to implement within the Mormon Church.
Church leaders say this change will allow them to implement a simplified program that meets local needs while providing activities to balance spiritual, social, physical and intellectual development goals for young men.
For more about the changes, click here.