With the Church announcing an end to its century-long affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of 2019 and the start of a new initiative for children and youth — a uniform leadership and development program that serves members worldwide — beginning in 2020, you’ve likely got some questions.
When does the change take place?
Although announced by the Church May 8, the Church’s relationship with the Boy Scouts of America as a chartered organization will continue through Dec. 31, 2019. The Church’s new initiative for children and youth development will begin Jan. 1, 2020.
What will be going away?
Beginning in 2020, the Church will drop its involvement in Scouting for boys ages 8 through 13 and those 14 and older working on rank advancement. And while a good share of the announcement focused on the Church ending its 105-year chartered-organization status with BSA in the United States, the Church also said it will discontinue any Scouting-related involvement worldwide at the same time.
Also, the Church said changes may come to other current children and youth programs, including Faith in God, Activity Days, Personal Progress and Duty to God.
What’s coming in its place?
The new initiative for children and youth development begins in 2020. Here’s what we know about the reasons for the program from the Church’s May 8 statement:
• “To provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families and to strengthen youth everywhere as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
• “To help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”
• “To allow local leaders, families and even young people themselves to customize their efforts, while providing service opportunities and activities, fostering healthy relationships and supporting communities.”
While Scouting and other Church programs for children and youth worked well over the years in Utah and elsewhere throughout the United States, the Church found some didn’t fit well elsewhere in the world because of cultural, financial, distance and membership reasons. The new initiative is one that is expected to be available globally and flexible enough to be adapted to local circumstances.
Expect the initiative to foster several programs with different names. The initiative spans the two genders and age levels from 8 years to 17. The initiative and its programs will fall under the Church’s Primary, Young Women and Young Men auxiliaries.The initiative is to focus on setting and achieving goals for spiritual, social, physical and intellectual development of children and youth, while at the same time reducing burdens on families.
Is there a “pilot program” and can we get a sneak peek of what is planned?
The Church said components of the new initiative are being tested in different parts of the world.
There is an active website — childrenandyouth.lds.org — but the Church said more details on the initiative will be forthcoming as the Jan. 1, 2020, implementation date approaches. For now, the only items available at the website are links to the Church’s statement, a combined Church-BSA statement and a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
What do our children and youth do in the interim?
The Church asks children and youth to remain fully engaged in the existing Primary and youth programs.
The Church’s Scouting programs will continue to be chartered through Dec. 31, 2019, for boys ages 8 through 13 and young men 14 and older working on their advancements. Camps, regular activities and the annual Friends of Scouting campaign will continue until the end of 2019.
What do our leaders do in the interim?
Adult leaders in the Church’s current children and youth programs — including existing Scouting programs — are to continue to serve and associate with the youth.
Just like the youth, parents and adult leaders are encouraged to continue their active participation in and financial support of Scouting until the Dec. 31, 2019, date.
Scouting leaders will be registered by the Church through its chartered units through the end of 2019. They are to continue in the Youth Protection and other required training for adult leaders.
The Church has updated its former Scouting Handbook manual for leaders; it is now called “Scouting Guidelines” and is available online. Sections deal with Scouting on the stake and ward levels and within the Primary organization as well as training and development information. Differences between Church policy and BSA policy are noted throughout.
We’re a Scouting family and want to continue involvement — what are our options after the changes?
Individuals and families wanting to continue their participation and advancement in Scouting after Dec. 31, 2019, will need to register with other BSA-chartered organizations, such as those sponsored by schools, other churches or other community groups. For Elder and Sister Uchtdorf, it was their first time in St. Petersburg since the city’s name was changed in 1991. And it was the first time for them in Tallinn since conducting a mission tour there in 1995.
And Elder Uchtdorf still sees now what he did when he first arrived more than three decades ago.
“I could feel back then that the Russian people are a people of faith. You can see how they’re true to their families, true to their friends,” he said. “So, we were impressed back then, and now we’re back, there’s a brightness there. … The people there walk with a different spring in their step. You can see this with the members of the Church — wow, they are happy, they are radiant.”