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When my fifth son was a tiny newborn we ventured downtown. Everywhere I went those days, people counted my little boys, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5!” and offered a variety of comments both kind and cutting. But I’ll never forget the lady who counted the boys, asked, “Are you LDS?” and on my affirmation exclaimed, “Oh no! All those Eagle projects!”

I laughed, but didn’t understand her words until several years later. It should be noted: I love and adore mothering my five boys. I would have happily taken a sixth– but the paperwork! Oh! The paperwork of Eagle projects.

Boy Scouts possesses it’s merits. I love the principles of service, love of the outdoors, faith and personal responsibility. My sons have had incredible leaders; men and women of character who taught/teach them real skills and values. But it’s also a program marred by huge expenses, bureaucracy and questionable ‘skills.’

I’m thrilled to hear of the church’s resolution to reevaluate our relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. Our leaders are insightful men and women, if they choose to leave the BSA, I know our church can create something so much better.

I frankly don’t care about the decision to allow gay leaders. I DO care about our young men and young women and I believe all the youth in the church are harmed by a program that requires a huge allocation of funds to a national organization, creates a great disparity between funds spent on boys and girls, wastes time on useless ‘merit’ badges and paralyzes real service with piles of paperwork.

In addition to fabulous leaders, my sons have also had those who loom over boys with a constant cloud of disapproval for some slight misstep– an untidy uniform, a partially filled form, the wrong signature etc. Perhaps in the past, we had the luxury of nitpicking our youth over meaningless trifles– secure in the knowledge they’d keep coming to church– but our youth today are in much greater danger. We need to instill values, teach principles and help our youth to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. Adult leaders need to view themselves as missionaries to their young charges as they teach they gospel and model Christlike living. Do missionaries criticize the clothing and habits of their investigators? No. They teach line upon line, principle upon principle, recognizing a person will embrace more commandments as their testimony grows.

BSA demands much from it’s participants. As you’ll note in the opening story, the woman didn’t ask if I was interested in Scouting, she knew as a Mormon mom I’d be expected to support it. For the most part, we’ve enjoyed scouting at our house (with the exception of the paperwork and nights when I want my boys home). Even if the church does abandon the program, I’ll help my fifth son finish up his Eagle. But I’ve seen families ostracized because they chosen not to embrace scouting. The program requires a tremendous amount of time away from families, school and other pursuits, and, a whole lot of money.

How much money? Millions upon millions. I’m sure we’ll see more answers in the comments. I think we can all agree the church could create a better program for less. When we start comparing how much the church spends on scouting vs. young women activities, the numbers become shocking.

What if we combined all the virtues of Personal Progress with some of the outdoor fun of scouting? What if all our scout camps converted to youth and family camps? Our girls could do more white water rafting and our boys could benefit from an inspired program. Duty to God is great, but there’s scarcely time for it when you’re checking off your video game merit badge (not making that one up). As an active participant in four Eagle projects and a young women’s leader who finished the Personal Progress requirements, I’ll attest to the far superior structure and benefits of Personal Progress. The girls learn the gospel, develop skills and do it all with far less paperwork.

I have faith in our leaders, I’m sure they already have piles of ideas that will benefit our youth and their leaders all over the world. Scouting provided a valuable program to the church for many years and if they choose to continue with scouting, I’ll continue to support it. But I’d love to see the church create something new; we can do better.

I know my quickly and poorly written words will come to life in the comments as you add your voice to the discussion.

Please share your thoughts for the ideal program for our youth.

What are your frustrations with Scouting? Do you think we should move on?

Do you think the church should stay with Scouting? Why?

July 29, 2015

116 Comments

  1. Becki

    July 28, 2015

    I don’t have much to add except complete agreement. Regardless of the decision to admit gay leaders scouting has run its course. I’ve seen very few church members not react with complete joy or relief at the idea of being out of scouting and into something better and much more cost effective. . .

    I thought your words were a perfect summary

    “Scouting provided a valuable program to the church for many years, but it’s time to move on. We can do better.”

    And with my first son on the way, out of self interest, I’ll say, I have 5 Eagle Scout brothers and I have no interest in doing what I watched my mother do to get them there.

  2. Janell

    July 28, 2015

    Honestly, I feel like the statement to “reevaluate” is just posturing and that even the decision for BSA to make the decision while the Mormon leader’s were “out of the office” was simply to help us Mormon’s keep face. I do not expect the relationship between the LDS church within the US and BSA to change on the local level.

    I would rather see Venturing or Camp Firl Girls or similar added for YW than Scouting taken away from the YM.

  3. Sharlee

    July 28, 2015

    Saying a loud “amen” to this, Michelle. I especially love (and agree with) this paragraph:

    “I frankly don’t care about the decision to allow gay leaders. In fact I know a few gay men who would make fantastic scout leaders. I DO care about our young men and young women and I believe all the youth in the church are harmed by a program that requires a huge allocation of funds to a national organization, creates a great disparity between funds spent on boys and girls, wastes time on useless ‘merit’ badges and paralyzes real service with piles of paperwork.”

    I serve in a stake position with stewardship over both the Cub Scouting program and Activity Days for 8-11-year-old girls, and I’ve been so disheartened by the inequity between these two programs. Budget issues aside, let’s consider for a moment the disparity between the amounts of time and the human resources devoted to each respective program. First of all, BSA requires two-deep leadership (which means two Wolf den leaders, two Bear den leaders, two Webelos leaders, two 11-year-old scout leaders (and on up through scout troops and crews)–not to mention all the other required positions (Cub Master, Cub Committee Chair, Committee members, Unit Commissioners, etc.). Activity Days? One to four women (depending on how each ward chooses to structure it). And they meet with the girls once every two weeks. The Cub Scout program, on the other hand, requires the following meetings of its leaders: den meetings (weekly), Pack Meeting (monthly), Roundtable (monthly), Cub Committee meeting (monthly), Key Scouters (monthly), Cub Scout Day Camp, Webelos Woods, 11-year-old Overnighter, etc. And once you get into Scouts, add Boards of Review, Courts of Honor, camp outs, etc.

    In a Church that constantly stresses how we value our girls just as much as our boys, how do we justify this disparity?

    I think you’re absolutely right, Michelle, that the Church could come up with a far superior program–one that is cheaper, more streamlined, more focused on gospel principles, and more effective in every way. We *can* do better.

    • Heather H

      July 28, 2015

      I totally agree, I have a 10 year old daughter and an 8 year old son, trying to explain the differences between cub scouts and activity days to a 10 year old is a loosing battle every time.

    • Random

      July 30, 2015

      This is what I have been saying for years… and I’ve been in Cub Scouts for the past 8 1/2 years, with a short break in Primary and YW. I have a son and a daughter, and the disparity made me start a Girl Scout troop, which I ran for four years.
      I’m torn on this. I want my son to earn his Eagle (he is a project and merit badge away from it) but will it mean anything if the organization backing it has no, pardon the pun, merit?
      I want my daughter to to have better experiences, not just crafts and the ability
      to read a scripture. (Sorry, that sounds harsh, but Personal Progress is a bunch of “read, reflect and write”. Then, at the end of all those, do a ridiculously long project that no one will remember or care about. Yay.)
      Can we do better as a church, coming up with a program that will work for the changing youth? Maybe. But it needs to incorporate the principles of scouting, the rites of Scouting, the love of people who lead real lives (I’d rather have you here at Scouting in your soccer uniform than not at all — soccer is huge in our area and a lot of boys do both) , service and *doing* things. The youth are in school all day, the last thing they want to do is come to another meeting where they get lectured.
      Reading more of the comments: As a pack, we try to do Faith in God (come on, it’s only 7 things that you need for the religious square knot) before they are 10. Our pack has a number of boys who are not in our ward, so we don’t do some of the Faith in God activities that only LDS boys will understand, but the ones on prayer? No problem.
      So many conversations, so many points to consider.

      • Ralph

        July 30, 2015

        Regarding the “ridiculously long project no one will remember or care about…” – true of some Eagle projects as well, so that’s not a programmatic issue. My cousin’s daughter doing a project to record a life history of my aunt – I reject that no one will remember or care about that.

  4. Vader

    July 28, 2015

    Janell,

    I sensed a lot of genuine anger and bitterness in the Church release, though it was masked with as much tact and diplomacy as could be managed. I think the Church believes that the timing was carefully planned to cut the Church leadership out of the loop. So now the trust has been destroyed and I don’t see the Church and BSA remaining together much longer.

    Michelle L.,

    “Do missionaries criticize the clothing and habits of their investigators? No. They teach line upon line, principle upon principle, recognizing a person will embrace more commandments as their testimony grows.”

    And, ultimately, they may require the investigators to make wrenching personal changes far beyond clothing habits and grooming. They may have to give up substance addictions. They may have to change their sexual conduct in wrenching ways. They may have to give up much of their time and resources. They will have to lay aside some old prejudices while learning to regard new (to them) sins with abomination. While learning how to love the sinners more than ever. There may be some value in our young men being taught what it is to make some changes in their own lives.

    And I think it is mistaken to believe that young men and young women will benefit from essentially identical programs. I think the needs are quite a bit different. In particular, boys need bonding experience with mature men. Provide the same program where it *does* benefit both sexes, as (for example) Seminary clearly does, but recognize there will be some sex-dependent needs requiring sex-dependent parts of the program.

    Otherwise, I’m pretty much with you on what you write here.

    I am myself content to see the Church go its own way. I find Friends of Scouting particularly obnoxious, though perhaps not as bad as the annual Cub Scout popcorn sales. My biggest beef with both was that so little of the raised funds were evident at the level where the boys themselves could see the value.

    • Michelle L.

      July 28, 2015

      thanks for your thoughts Vader. Ah, you misunderstand me. I absolutely think people need to change and repent, but I think we need to teach line upon line and sometimes we judge youth before teaching them. Also, I don’t think we should create identical programs, but I think they YM program could benefit from some ideas from the YW and vice versa.

      • Vader

        July 28, 2015

        Point.

      • Heather H

        July 28, 2015

        I think there is a change needed especially the to the cub scout/activity day programs to make the time/callings/funding more even. I see the YM/YW programs as being more similar in most of those aspects.

    • Tay

      July 28, 2015

      I like your point that boys need bonding with mature men. But do girls not have the same need, to bond with mature women? I would love to see that happen for all of the youth, so that growing out of the youth programs doesn’t cause so much trepidation for them.

    • Ralph

      July 30, 2015

      Janell, I think you are projecting the “genuine anger and bitterness” onto the Church’s response. Based on experience with the Church doesn’t it seem that “disappointment” and/or perhaps “frustration” might be a more appropriate assessment? We generally judge others by what we would be thinking/feeling/etc. if we said or did what we observe.

      I agree that YM and YW need different programs, and elements of both can be shared for sure.

      And, thankfully, we have never touched the popcorn sales thing. It’s certainly not a requirement for a troop to participate in, so if there is some “we’ve always done it” going on, you might plead for a change in your next committee meeting. There are lots of other options – many of which do not include selling individual items.

  5. Alice

    July 28, 2015

    I really don’t know any mothers of sons who love Boy Scouts. I know some who tolerate it, but most hate it, for a lot of the reasons already outlined. The money. The time and paperwork. The resulting gender disparity.
    I personally hate it because of its affiliation with the NRA, an organization I deplore. I hate that I’m asked for money in church to support some 3rd-party organization I don’t fully agree with. (I never donate, but we have bought the necessary supplies.) I hate that when my son started cub scouts, the scout leader told us we’d have to do the Faith in God program at home because “there’s no time for it in cub scouts.” (Really? No time for gospel instruction at a church activity!?) I hate that for boys and their families, being active in the church requires full participation in a non-church organization. I HATE all those stupid meetings.
    I agree that it’s time for the church to move on. It takes up way too much time and resources. My son has had some great leaders and had participated in some great activities, but those things can happen without the BSA. I really hope we leave.

    • Vader

      July 28, 2015

      I do know a few mothers who appear to love Boy Scouts. At least, they act a lot more enthusiastic than I ever could.

      One of them will shortly be coming back to my ward after a mission. I’ll be interested to hear her comments.

    • Tamora Muir

      July 29, 2015

      I love Cub Scouts. I have one son who went through the program and another who is currently a Wolf (8 year old). I love what the leaders do, I love the achievements and skills they learn.

      I do not love it when INDIVIDUAL leaders or wards undermine the whole program as administered by the Church by saying, “We don’t do Faith in God. You’ll have to do that at home.” This in spite of multiple trainings and instructions coming from the Church headquarters as well as our local Stake. That was the situation when I was called as a Webelos Den Leader in one ward. Believe me, that changed the week I was called. My current ward is really focused on Faith in God, and does it hand in hand with Cub Scouting as it was meant to be done in the Church. I still find it much easier to do Activity Days for the Girls that to be a Den Leader for the boys, which is my current calling. But there are things that are included for the Cub Scouts that are not involved the Faith in God program and so are not part of the girl’s program, including citizenship in their communities, states, and nations.

      In most countries in the world, Scouting is simply not used. It’s too expensive. Where I served my mission, the cost to outfit an 8 year old for Cub Scouts was equivalent to a month’s salary for many families. And the resources that make the BSA worth it (like the scout camps) that we have here in the US are not available. I do believe that Cub Scouts could easily be replaced by the Faith in God for Boys program, with very few (if any) changes. In fact, in most countries, it has been that way for years.

      I do think the Duty to God program for the YM is usually shunted to the side in favor of merit badges and rank advancements. And I think the Duty to God program will need to be seriously revamped to include many of the advantages of Boy Scouts. But it can be done (and will be, if the Church ends its relationship with the BSA as I expect it will).

  6. EmJen

    July 28, 2015

    The church leaders were not cut out of the loop as they did vote no. I’m so confused as to what that part of the news release was saying.

    Also, I’m a bit surprised at this and similar reactions in the last day. It’s like Mormons have finally been given permission to publicly vent about the problems of scouting similar to when the old YM and YW lesson manuals were retired.

    • Vader

      July 28, 2015

      My sense is that the rush with which this was pushed through meant that our three representatives had to vote without working through the full system of councils of the Church. And possibly had to cut short their family time to be available for the vote.

      I get the sense the Church felt deliberately cut out of the loop, since that seems the simplest explanation for the rather abrupt change of tone in this last press release. The scales fell from someone’s eyes.

      • Becci Lammi

        August 1, 2015

        I agree, Vader!

  7. Jessie

    July 28, 2015

    Sharlee–as someone who has spent a lot of time in Primary leadership I fully agree with you. It is so, so hard to keep Cub Scouts fully function with the right number of leaders who have the time and inclination to run an effective program. I think something simpler would work a lot better for everyone and probably provide more benefits to kids and their families.

    My son has been in Cub Scouts for about a year now, and he totally loves it. However, I think he would have just as much fun if similar activities were being done under the guise of Activity Days. He likes setting goals and crossing things off; he likes having a regular activity with friends and with his leaders. These are all things that could be accomplished by a good Activity Days program, and maybe even in a better way (for example, we have a small number of boys in our ward and as they advance by age, things get more challenging as the numbers are always in flux for each den–this could be solved by having one group for all).

    My oldest, a daughter, is turning 12 next week and finishing up 4 years of Activity Days. We have a great program in our ward that has been simple, fun, and effective. She’s done a variety of activities, from sewing and cooking to creating and racing a PInewood derby car and hiking. Our ward has also created some annual traditions for the girls like a daddy-daughter party and a mother-daughter party that are mostly planned by the girls.

    I think we could add a few of the things from scouting to Activity Days–like a requirement for two-deep leadership and more structured goals–and still get many of the benefits. Someone in another comment mentioned the need for kids/youth to bond with mature adults, and that I think is one of the benefits of programs for both boys and girls. One of my daughter’s former Activity Days leaders is like an extra grandmother for the girls in the ward–that kind of thing can happen will without all the extra layers of other stuff.

    • Heather H

      July 28, 2015

      I totally agree with your comment!

  8. KR

    July 28, 2015

    I am absolutely fine with homosexual leaders in BSA, but for other reasons, I also would like to see the church reevaluate it’s relationship with BSA. The young men and young women are only allowed to hold one combined fundraiser in a year, but then the boys get another for scouts. I would like to see equal money, time and attention paid to both the YM and YW of the church, even if activities are sometimes different. I agree that the church could create a better program that serves both YM and YW.

    I think BSA has a lot to offer interested YM, but like others mentioned, it doesn’t make sense to me to make it a requirement of activity in the church. The organization will still exist even if the church severs ties with it, and then the families who want to dedicate time/money/energy to scouts will still be able to while the rest of us won’t be obligated by “callings” to an outside organization.

  9. RMM

    July 28, 2015

    Here’s another vote as someone who would be fine with gay youth leaders.

    Since we all know (at least I hope we know) that gay means attraction to same sex, not attraction to children, and that youth activities have a number of strong child-protective policies such as two leaders present at all times, and since the Church expects its gay members to live celibate lives, what a great opportunity it would be for them to have an opportunity to bless the lives of the children of the Church by serving in the youth programs.

    • Tamora Muir

      July 29, 2015

      I don’t believe that homosexuals who are living the Law of Chastity should be barred from leadership in Scouts, just as they currently are not barred from callings in any youth or children’s organization of the Church. But the “openly gay” phrase means (to me, at least, and probably many others) a gay lifestyle (which clearly not in line with the Law of Chastity).

      The problem is not that gay leaders might potentially be dangerous to the youth (they wouldn’t, not any more than anyone else), it is with leaders who are not “morally straight” in the sense that they are not obeying the law of chastity. That isn’t acceptable in a leader and example of youth.

      • Tiffany C

        July 29, 2015

        I agree. I had the same understanding. There are righteous gay members of our faith. That one would be a Cub master or den leader is not a concern to me, and would maybe be a good example for a boy who struggles with similar feelings. To see that he can remain chaste and happy and obedient to God’s plan would be fine with me. It’s the other example of the ‘openly gay’ lifestyle that would concern me. But I don’t think the latter is something we would have to worry about, since we choose most of our leaders from the congregation.

        • Ralph

          July 30, 2015

          Good point. One challenge with those from other organizations is that our packs and troops don’t operate in isolation, so it depends on where all of this goes I would think.

      • Becci Lammi

        August 1, 2015

        @ Tamora. I don’t think that what you stated is correct. A gay man should not be placed in any situation in which he feels unduly tempted. I do know for a fact that pedophiles cannot work in scouting nor with children and youth in the Church. How that works for a gay man or woman, may be on an individual basis. There is a percentage of gay men and women that are attracted to children.

        • Morgan

          August 2, 2015

          There is a percentage of straight men and women who are too. Who are not registered pedophiles, and so would not be kept from holding that position of leadership.

    • Crzychkin

      July 29, 2015

      I LOVE this post so much! I have a friend who is an active member of the church who deals with same gender attraction. He is super kind and I think would do really well with the youth.

      • Ralph

        July 29, 2015

        Another interesting part of this situation is that we have a tendency to look at this from an individual perspective. I.e., how does it effect the individuals in my story that I see, whether my daughter, my son, my gay active member friend, etc. The issue the Church Leadership will have to deal with goes beyond just that. For example, what lawsuits will this trigger? What happens at Scout Camp where, as mentioned elsewhere, perhaps 20% of the troops are LDS and others with gay men (that do not live the law of chastity and perhaps advocate for practices – not feelings or attractions but practices – contrary to doctrine), etc. One year we were at a scout camp where the camp director had a fairly open distain for LDS troops and his leadership led the whole camp to treat the kids in our troop poorly – nothing egregious, but just unfortunate. All of the other camps I have been to with our kids have been amazing and nothing like that.

        So, if you are the First Presidency, Quorum of the 12, the General Primary Presidency, the General Relief Society Presidency, the YM and YW Presidencies, looking out across the entire Church, and the entire risk and benefit proposition, weighing everyone’s diverse views, and seeking most aggressively the Lord’s view, they may see it differently than I do.

        Our challenge, I think, is that whatever they decide how diligently will we sustain them? If they choose to part with BSA, how much effort will we individually put into the new program? Will we prepare for each activity or just wing it? Will we be willing to do even inconvenient things to minister to the YM and YW? If they choose to stay with the BSA and continue to encourage us to actually attend the district training, will we actually do it – or will we complain and push back?

        I think if we part ways, there will be a surge of interest and a willingness to dig in and help, but perhaps followed by less effective efforts and more complaining. If we stay together, I would guess more complaining. It’s really been an amazing thing to watch the program work when the leaders get trained and study out what to do and really try to marry the two programs. Seeing a “chaplain’s assistant” 12 year old (not the quorum president) lead out on tracking duty to God progress is awesome – especially as he stuck with it and that effort jump started a focus on the DTG program.

        We will find whatever we look for in either decision and its aftermath. Here’s to praying for a rededication to serving the youth of our wards. 🙂

    • Becci Lammi

      August 1, 2015

      RRM,

      The problem is that there are many gay men and women who are attracted to children. Also, you are not considering the burden of temptation that would be placed upon a person with same sex attraction.

      • Lindsay

        August 2, 2015

        Becci, there are many evidence based studies that have examined the link between homosexuality and pedophilia, and the conclusion is overwhelmingly that there is no connection. There are homosexuals who are pedophiles just as there are heterosexuals who are pedophiles. Being gay doesn’t mean you’re more likely to be attracted to children.

        As to your statement, “A gay man should not be placed in any situation in which he feels unduly tempted,” what about a straight man being placed
        in positions of undue temptation? What about how (presumably heterosexual) bishops interview girls and women behind closed doors every single week? For a fascinating discussion on this exact topic, check out Amy’s post: http://www.the-exponent.com/where-is-the-outrage/

        I have not seen any recent church statement expressing that the reason the church is opposed to gay leaders is due to concerns of pedophilia. Until such time that an explanation is given, I think it is prudent not to put words in church leaders’ mouths.

        • Morgan

          August 2, 2015

          Hear, hear

  10. Pualele

    July 28, 2015

    The church doesn’t have a scouting program here on our little island country of Samoa. We are the Independent State of Samoa NOT to be confused with American Samoa, a territory of the US. Aside from all the other valid points discussed, I think the church could create a better program applicable worldwide and not just in the US and Canada (I know Canada has a scouting program and other developed countries for that matter). Personal Progress is a program that is applicable and feasible anywhere in the world. Why can’t scouts be too? My sons and all the other sons of our worldwide church can and should have access to the benefits and blessings of a scouting program. I think this reevaluation period is a great opportunity to change things up for the better, and hopefully more globally accessible and inclusive. But whatever the outcome, I too have faith in our leaders and know we are in good hands.

  11. EL

    July 28, 2015

    Yes and yes. As I’ve watched my husband the last few years work in the YM program, we’ve both been frustrated with the BSA; the paperwork, bureaucracy, alienation of some boys and yes, definitely the money. When I read him the statement from the church last night, he was thrilled at the thought that the church may eventually cut ties with the BSA. I completely agree that the church has the resources to offer something much better suited to the specific needs of young men in the church.

  12. Kellie

    July 28, 2015

    The more I’ve heard about the use of Scouts in Primary/YM in the USA has only increased my relief that it’s not part of the gospel or church culture here in Australia.

    • Elissa

      July 29, 2015

      Kellie, I agree with you – glad Australia dropped scouting a long time ago. Both youth programs work well side by side, with equal leadership and funding. The activities the girls and boys do are up to the youth leaders (as in quorum presudents) so they can go to whatever the youth want, sport, outdoor, indoor, cooking, spiritual, service. Our Faith in God is mixed in our ward – girls and boys together. It is great.

      • Tamora Muir

        July 29, 2015

        I agree with this. Where I served my mission in South America, Scouts was simply too expensive (the cost to outfit an new Cub Scout would feed a family for a month there). And I would like to see the same in the US.

        Except for one thing. I’m not sure the BSA could survive the Church cutting ties. I’m pretty sure that the Church represents at least half of BSA membership, and probably quite an bit more than that financially. If the BSA survives us leaving, it would be dramatically reduced in influence and size. I do believe strongly that it is a force for good among the young men of the United States, and other parts of the world too.

        • E C

          July 29, 2015

          I think scout membership is closer to 20% Mormon, which is about the representation I’ve seen at our local day camp.

  13. Jennifer

    July 28, 2015

    Just want to give a little background on me so you know where I am coming from on this issue: I have been in various Scouting positions over 15 years, including Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. I loved the program so much that I not only took the leadership courses (Wood Badge, etc.) but I also was on the training staff to train other leaders for 10 years. My family has 3 generations of Silver Beaver recipients and is so immersed in Scouting that most of us get called to Scouting positions when moving into a new ward based solely on our reputation. My perspective is that of a leader who has been working in the Scouting program in many wards and in many different callings (the only one I haven’t had is Scoutmaster!)

    And now to my rant. The BSA provides a great program…when it is done correctly. Unfortunately, I’m sick of scouts now because of the way the program is used in the Church. I completely agree that the scouting program was useful, but I have not seen the program used correctly in the 15 years I have been involved.

    First of all, it is rare to find someone called to a position in scouting that actually wants to be there. Or they are excited at first, only to be disillusioned over time when things become too difficult to manage because of the others who don’t want to be there (which happens to me every time.) I loved being in scouting, but now I can’t stand to work with others who don’t put any effort into what they are supposed to be doing. Not to mention that most of the people who are called never get any training and have no idea what they are doing.

    Second, the Scouting program seems to sometimes be at war with the Young Men’s program. They are two different groups with different leaders fighting over the same chunk of time that the boys have available. Sometimes you have a strong Scouting program (the Scoutmaster is the loudest) and sometimes not (the YM president is the loudest.) Scouting’s model is to have 3 weeks of learning followed by a campout on the fourth week. Young Men’s has joint activities and the boys are rarely allowed to camp every month (and the leaders usually don’t want to anyway.) These two programs don’t mix well.

    Third, the way the troops and packs are organized makes the patrols way too small. In several wards, we had to combine troops because there were only 3 or 4 boys in the whole ward of the right age. In this case, coordination between wards became an issue. (Which Bishop needs to call a Scoutmaster? How do you make sure that all the boys in every ward know what’s going on?) The rule is that one ward = one troop. It is usually not enough for the 2-3 groups of 6-8 boys that should make up a Troop, let alone another set to make a Team and a third set to make a Crew. Most of the boys AND leaders have no idea how well a troop/team/crew works when filled with the right number of boys because it rarely happens.

    When done right, Scouting is a great program that helps boys learn and mature into responsible citizens. Unfortunately, Scouting is not done right in the Church and as much as I love the program, I sincerely hope that the Church decides to give it up. I’m hoping this decision by the BSA is the catalyst that makes that happen.

    Sorry about the rant.

    • Heather Tolen

      July 29, 2015

      Love this response, and TOTALLY agree. I don’t see it as a rant. You are absolutely right on all counts.

    • Becci Lammi

      August 1, 2015

      Totally know what you said to be true!

  14. robin marie

    July 28, 2015

    I agree with everything you said! I have for many years disliked the funds allocated for scouting and the discrepancy between the two youth programs!

  15. Amira

    July 28, 2015

    I would love to see scouting and the church part ways but I’d be disappointed if it were over this. But at least the connection would be over.

    Scouting benefits only a quarter of the youth in the church (not the half that is mentioned in the press release, unless girls aren’t youth), it’s terribly expensive, and like so many here have pointed out, it doesn’t work in a lot of wards anyway. We’ve usually lived overseas while our boys have been the right ages for scouts so we couldn’t do it anyway and even when we’ve been in the US, we haven’t been in wards with both enough boys and leaders to make it run well. This is especially true in wards that don’t have enough men to fill all the priesthood-only callings anyway. Scouting works best when it’s run by volunteers and that’s almost never what happens in LDS troops.

    I’d love to see an activity program for the youth that was the same for girls and boys with Personal Progress and Duty to God continuing as the spiritual programs. It would be a challenge though to create an activity program with a reasonable amount of structure and guidance combined with the necessary flexibility to make it work in a branch with 2 youth in Kazakhstan and wards with 60 youth in Utah.

  16. Kerri

    July 28, 2015

    I personally loved what Scouting did for my son. I loved his leaders and their involvement in his life. I loved his opportunity to spend time outdoors doing significant hiking and biking at a level I couldn’t have provided him. I didn’t love the Eagle project stuff, but I loved the idea of a big service project, especially if planned well and executed well (ours wasn’t…Ha.)

    However, I do not and have never loved the disparity between my brothers’ experiences with Scouting and my experiences in YW, and now the disparity between my son’s experience vs. my daughters’ experiences. It is just not right. I don’t necessarily think we have to toss out Scouting. It helps many boys have important experiences. I just want there to be a thoughtfully considered decision about how our youth programs affect the worldwide membership…both boys and girls.

    • Becki

      July 28, 2015

      I don’t see why all the great things about scouting couldn’t remain in a new program, without the expensive overhead of BSA.

      • Pualele

        July 28, 2015

        I agree Becki. As a kid and then a YW, I longed to do what the boys got to do in Scouts, and now I wish my sons could participate but it’s not available here. If there was a way we could chuck the bad, and keep the good – that would be great!

    • Becci Lammi

      August 1, 2015

      Kerri,

      I was disgusted with the disparity between girl’s camp and BSA camp when I was a teen. My brother swam, rafted, sailed, shot guns, etc, while I made crafts out of rocks. It is just plain wrong and needs to change!

  17. eljee

    July 28, 2015

    I very much agree with Jennifer’s comments above. I think maybe it is good for the Church to drop scouting because the Church does not have the structure or resources to do it right. I saw this firsthand after our family moved to a small branch which does not have a scout troop, and our son began attending a troop sponsored by another local church. It seems ironic that the biggest complaint is that scouting takes so much money. Yes, it gets far more money than YW’s gets, and that discrepancy is completely unfair. But it does not get enough money to run a truly successful program. My son’s troop does many fundraisers and brings in lots of money, and as a result they are able to run a phenomenal program. The other main difference is that the leaders are passionate about what they are doing and really want to be there, unlike many LDS leaders who are serving simply because they were called to do so. In general Scouting has been fabulous for my son, and I will continue to have him participate regardless of what the Church does. But it is probably time for the Church to take a different focus.

  18. Paula

    July 28, 2015

    All very great points in both the article and the comments. I must admit that it hasn’t been until very recently that I gained a vision for what scouting has the potential to do for young men. Thanks to a wonderful scoutmaster who knew how to do things right, I saw how the program teaches leadership and personal responsibility. Sadly, in the years I have had exposure to scouts, I never saw it. My brother was teased and tormented relentlessly in scouts, my son had a lukewarm leader and my other son is on the brink of turning 12 and so far his leaders have been ok. The big change I would love to see is a better emphasis on life skills. My oldest children have no idea how to go out and fill out job applications or how to write a resume. They don’t know how to study the scriptures effectively. There are so many things lacking because of the “rules” of scouting. I also see a lot of young men give up on scouting when they become priests. Venturing is a joke. The church needs a worldwide youth program for both YM and YW.

  19. Kathy

    July 28, 2015

    Love this so much, thank you for the positive outlook. I’ve spent the last few years encouraging families to get outdoors on my site, Go Adventure Mom, and have often wondered why there wasn’t an “activity arm” for our Young Women as their is for the Young Men with scouting.

    “What if we combined all the virtues of Personal Progress with some of the outdoor fun of scouting? What if all our scout camps converted to youth and family camps? Our girls could do more white water rafting and our boys could benefit from an inspired program. “

  20. Lindsay

    July 28, 2015

    I don’t understand the church’s outrage, especially in light of the fact that the religious exemption will permit them to continue to select their own leaders. I think it’s great gay parents will be able to participate in scouting with their children if they choose.

    It will be a bit upsetting if this is the reason the church finally breaks from scouting, but I almost don’t even care because I just want to be RID of scouting already. I’d be very surprised if the church abandoned scouting while Pres. Monson is still in office, but it needs to happen. There must be parity in the programs for boys and girls in the church, and the current state of budget discrepancies would be laughable if they weren’t so nauseating. The activity days program needs more structure; the cub scouts need significantly less.

    A year and a half ago, my (green) bishopric held everybody after sacrament meeting while the bishop gave a 15 minute spiel about the importance of scouting and how everyone should donate to Friends of Scouting. As he spoke, YM and their leaders walked the aisles, passing out envelopes and donation forms. More priesthood leaders stood guarding the doors of the chapel and collecting envelopes as the congregation was finally permitted to file out. My husband leaned over to me and said, “I thought we didn’t pass the plate in our church meetings.” The bishop did say we shouldn’t feel obligated to donate the suggested amounts on the form (the lowest amount was $250!). He did NOT inform the congregation that Friends of Scouting money isn’t even spent directly on the boys in our ward. I was so steaming mad about the whole thing–it was incredibly inappropriate.

    • Becci Lammi

      August 1, 2015

      “I think its great gay parents will be able to participate in scouting with their children it they choose”. I don’t understand your statement. That gay parents can be leaders? Not in the church, they won’t. Do you understand why?

      • Lindsay

        August 1, 2015

        Becci, I was referring to the fact that gay parents will now be able to participate in scouting with their sons due to the recent change in BSA policy. The church may choose not to call homosexuals to leadership positions in scouting, but I imagine most gay families will be welcome to participate in non-LDS (the majority of) troops, and I think that’s great.

        As to your other question, frankly, I do not understand why. But I don’t understand many other things the church does or does not do, so this is not a unique situation. And as far as I’m aware, the church hasn’t explicitly explained why, either, so I think it’s dangerous to speculate.

  21. Laurel Lee Pedersen

    July 29, 2015

    I was called at 62 to be a cub leader. I have taught almost every grade of elementary school and principaled for 30 years. I can’t tell you how hard it was to get into cub scouting, even with all my experience with kids, and having a son go through scouting, including his eagle. On top of it, we had wolves and bears together. Impossible!!!! After two years, I finally asked to be released. Surely we can develop simpler, more refined programs that include Faith in God, healthy age appropriate activities and skills, that is easier to administrate, and train leaders to lead for BOTH sexes in the church for less money for this age group as well as 11-18 year olds.

    • RMM

      July 29, 2015

      Thank you for saying this! I’ve had three boys in scouting for ten years now, one with an Eagle finished, one close to his Eagle, and one in Cub Scouts, and I’m a merit badge counselor, and I still don’t understand the program.

      I have to use alternate websites to help navigate the program every time, step by step.

      There’s no reason it needs to be this complicated.

      Actually, strike that. There is a reason it needs to be this complicated: to preserve the BSA monopoly on the brand. The professional scouters need to preserve their jobs and have a reason to provide extensive training, and if they make it too complex for people with a college education to understand, they justify their own existence. (At least that’s what I’ve come to believe.)

  22. Michelle

    July 29, 2015

    I have felt for a long time that we are in BSA as much, if not more , for the boys outside of the Church than inside. So although I logically agree with a lot of what has been said, I think it is worth considering that there may be more going on than we know or can analyze from the outside. Prophets are prophets for all, not just for those in the Church. This is what I think when Friends of Scouting comes around, anyway.

  23. Rachel

    July 29, 2015

    I agree with so many of the comments here. I believe the gender disparity alone is an unnecessary vulnerability for the church and the good of scouting can be distilled into a simpler, more efficient program. How can we respectfully funnel our concerns up the pipeline to church leadership?

  24. Caroline

    July 29, 2015

    A few things: First, as a mom who has been involved in scouts as a parent & as a leader, I would be thrilled to jettison the BSA for the paperwork alone.

    As for the girls vs. the boys: Am I the only one who remembers the extensive camp program the Church had for the girls? We had levels that had to be reached, multiple hikes and campouts that were required, lists of skills that had to be learned and demonstrated, etc. On top of that we had personal progress and in my stake growing up we had an extensive church sports program too. The Church scaled things back so that Personal Progress became the main focus and the camp program is a shell of what it was.

    As a mom of three girls I thought I would miss my girls having the same experiences I had growing up, but the reality is that we do not have the time to do all the church-related activities I did as a kid. I know very few young women who do. I genuinely do not need the Church to spend more $$ on the YW. My only issue was that in our ward we were doing a fundraiser for Scout camp but we did nothing for the girls camp fees. I brought that up to my leaders and they listened & changed to a joint YM/YW fundraiser.

    Overall I find that girls (speaking in generalities here) form social connections much more easily than boys do. I think the Church chose the right balance with the girls when they revamped the camping program vs. Personal progress.

    With my son, however, I have to say if it wasn’t for scouting, he wouldn’t be friends with the boys in our ward. Not because the boys aren’t nice or what have you, but because the time and effort involved in scouting activities creates an environment that forms friendships that otherwise wouldn’t be built just attending YM. And truthfully, the service learned in scouting is a lifelong blessing to the Church and to their families. My son has absolutely learned the value of service in a much more meaningful way through scouting than he could have through an occasional service project at church. In short, I feel my girls have received exactly what they needed from the YW program and my son is getting exactly what he needs from YM and the scouting program. If the Church jettisons the BSA (which I am actually fine with) it would be a shame if they didn’t replace it with a similarly designed program. And while the paperwork is a pain in the butt, there is value in having the boys have to learn to do something with exactness while under scrutiny.

    As far as the BSA vote goes, I read an analysis of Robert Gates actions regarding LGBT issues during his career (particularly with regards to the military) yesterday and after reading that combined with the Church’s initial response, I believe the vote was timed to cut the Church’s influence out. The trust does appear to have been broken.

    Additionally what has occurred here is the BSA has opened the door for the Church to be sued repeatedly. In the articles I’ve read multiple lawyers have stated that they will begin suing local units. The 2000 ruling by the Supreme Court that stated that the BSA could make their own rules worked as long as it was a unified policy, but with some units allowing gay leaders and some not then it will be challenged along the religious exemption vs. discrimination lines.

    So while the BSA says they recognize the rights of religious organizations to make the rules with regard to each troop, the BSA is not a religious organization and as such a continued affiliation may mean multiple lawsuits that would require another Supreme Court decision to resolve.

    And finally, I think it’s important to stress this: This is not about gay leaders. It’s about the Church’s ability to call leaders within their own scout troops. The Church would no more call a man living with his girlfriend into a scout leadership position than they would a gay man who is living with a partner. A man who gets involved with sexual sin regardless of orientation is immediately released if they’re serving as a scout leader (or any calling, actually). If they determine that this action by the BSA puts the Church into a position where they (whether now or in the future) no longer have the right and authority to call their own leaders, then they have to end the relationship. That’s not an LGBT issue, that’s a religious freedom issue.

    In any event these are my thoughts on the issue. I claim no special insight into the inner councils of the Church, nor do I represent them. Just my thoughts as I read the news!

    • Becki

      July 29, 2015

      I have been surprised by the voices saying we need more for YW. Having just been released from YW my overall feeling (and it may just be ward culture here in IL) was the parents and girls wanted less definitely not more. They are involved in so many activities and take such heavy workloads at school that they just don’t have the extra time and energy to do even more.

      • Heather H

        July 29, 2015

        I can’t remark on the differences in YM/YW as my kids aren’t that old yet but the differences between Activity Days and cub scouts is what I feel needs to be addressed. The girls I know want more from the program but due to the measly budget there isn’t much their leaders can do. When they see what the cub scouts get to do its a very hard thing to explain why their brothers have weekly meetings with outings and get badges and summer camps.

    • Marie

      July 30, 2015

      The disparity both activity-wise and financially evens out some at the Young Women level, but it’s in the primary/cub scout level that it’s pretty awful. Our activity days girls get $3 per girl per year for activities. $3.00. And that’s pretty standard in our stake. Some wards go up to $5. The primary budget pays $125 per boy per year to the BSA, not including fees the stake kicks in, not including those horrendous fundraisers with popcorn and lawn mowing, not including Friends of Scouting.

      It sends a message to our daughters (and to us) that all the church can find for 8-11 year old girls is $3-5 per year during those years, with no awards, levels, belt loops, patches, no recognition except a certificate if they complete the full Faith in God award (the boys in scouts get a patch), but can spend hundreds of dollars on this program for the boys each year. The message? It’s not a good one.

  25. Julie

    July 29, 2015

    Thank you! To me the Church and the BSA are a terrible fit, but I’ve felt extremely alone in my feelings and it’s been gratifying to discover I can agree with elements of every single comment so far. I’ve been struggling with scouts for months since I was called to work with the Wolves, and I’ve been dreading my son turning 8 and the effect the dramatic gender inequities in church programs will have on my children. I’ve been shocked by the waste of money (most of which we don’t even see), the long list of callings filled at the expense of other ward organizations which are poorly staffed, the feeling that I’m jumping puppets through hoops who are then congratulated for all their “hard work” with worthless but pricey trinkets bestowed with great ceremony. The fact that the program has potential to work so much better but that our LDS group sizes and other habits undermine even that. The awkwardness of having a money-sucking corporate organization with it’s own hierarchy and priorities grafted into the Church structure and the frustration of not being able to figure out who’s “in charge” The Church handbook constantly reiterates that Church activities should have a clear purpose and should not put inappropriate burdens on individuals and families, but Scouting seems completely immune from those considerations. The fact than neither leaders or participants get any choice in the matter. The fact that it seems to take massive amounts of training/experience to understand what’s going on and what you’re “supposed” to be doing. I started out thinking my confusion and frustration were just due to inexperience and ignorance and I’ve reached out extremely tentatively to try to communicate that concerns exist but so far no one seems to understand or have any response besides “pray about it!” I’ve been praying for months and all I got was a very vivid dream where I told the Bishop children are extremely sensitive to inequity and injustice and asked him “Does God love my sons more than my daughters?” It’s been very cathartic to see that so many intelligent, thinking people notice the same problems I do. I agree it’s a pity that this is the issue the Church decides to call the BSA on, and I doubt LDS scouting is going anywhere while Monson is still in charge but if it does go it won’t be soon enough.

  26. Ralph

    July 29, 2015

    Thank you Michelle. I am surprised that no one else yet made that connection. I see one of the growing issues in the world to be that we are raising our kids to be consumers, rather than producers. Part of that is by our examples, even in how we approach scouting. Why is it all about us as consumers of scouting – e.g. “what are we getting out of this?” Perhaps our focus could instead be on what we are doing to strengthen our communities through supporting a Church-supported organization. Heaven forbid the BSA would ever collapse and stop teaching values to the nation’s youth! There are so few sources of that sort of teaching today.

    I sustain whatever the brethren decide on this, but it would be so very refreshing to see more comments about how we could offer more to the Lord’s children rather about how much we hate a program in which the brethren have felt to invest the widow’s mite.

  27. DuPaix

    July 29, 2015

    My thoughts exactly. Thank you for putting into words how I feel too. I have five boys-16, 14, 12, 9, 7. Two are Eagle Scouts, one is at First Class, and one is a Bear in cubs. I will continue to support scouts if the church continues, but I would welcome a change with open arms, jumping for joy! We can do so much better. Thank you for sharing.

  28. Liz

    July 29, 2015

    I’m so glad to here the disparity being brought up between the girls and boys. To me the disparity isn’t just in the money. Growing up with 2 brothers the lesson scouting taught me was that boys get to have fun and girls have to be spiritual. Sure we did “fun” things occasionally but the focus of our program was growing closer to God. The focus for my brothers was earning merit badges, all the activities they got to do, and let’s not forget the hours of basketball played. Now as a parent of both boys and girls I’m often heartbroken at how much time and effort is NOT spent on helping my boys gain a testimony. In additional to the amount of our family budget required to being devoted to scouting shirts, books, camping gear, camp costs, and more.

    If families or individuals still want to participate in BSA good for them, but I’d be elated for our forced involvement with this program to end.

  29. Debra

    July 29, 2015

    I have long wondered at the association of BSA and the church. I guess it seemed a great idea at the time but the fact is any boy who wants to be in scouting could still do that, independent of the church’s involvement. It was a respected, ready-made program taken on so that the church didn’t have to come up with one on their own. That made sense at the time. But we’ve evolved and it’s high time to simplify what it is we truly want for our youth. This for me is not really about Gay leaders- there are and will still be those- it’s about getting our youth (and ourselves) back to the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  30. Ralph

    July 29, 2015

    One other comment: someone mentioned that her son couldn’t fill out a job application and didn’t know how to study the scriptures because of scouting. I would lovingly challenge the premise that the YM program is where those two skills should be taught. Those are items that should perhaps be taught at home.

  31. Ben Anderson

    July 29, 2015

    First off, let me say that I am a Scout leader. In fact, I am a Varsity Team Coach. I love Scouting, all that it teaches and represents. It helped build me into the person I am today. It helped me in my decision to go on a mission, graduate from college, becoming a husband and a father. I am a part of of it because I want to help other young men to learn and grow both in scouting and the priesthood.

    Please remember, that Scouting is still an inspired program and has been approved, endorsed, and spoken very highly by our current and former Prophets. Even though they are will re-evaluate their association, it is still approved and endorsed by the church. Until they have spoken, please follow their counsel. If they do decide to not associate with the BSA anymore, it won’t be an overnight decision. They will have to implement a replacement program. There will also be a period of transition. It will take time. So don’t expect any immediate changes, if there will be any.

    Here is an article I wrote that was featured on ldsdaily and ldssmile that helps explain the position of how the Scouting, Duty to God and the Aaronic Priesthood work together.

    http://www.boyscout411.com/scouting-duty-to-god-the-aaronic-priesthood/

    • Michelle L.

      July 29, 2015

      Thanks Ben. As I said in the article, I will continue follow the brethren’s counsel on scouting. But I think this has been an insightful discussion.

    • Lindsay

      July 29, 2015

      Ben, I don’t think anyone here is saying that good hasn’t come from the church’s affiliation with scouting. I’m sure there are many other men with stories like yours about how scouting has helped shape their lives.

      What we ARE saying is that, despite the good things about scouting, there are a lot of drawbacks. The program is very expensive, both for the church and for individual families, and we use church time and resources collecting donations for a third-party organization, which is odd to me (is there any other instance of this in the church? If so, I’m not aware of it). The organization of scouting is needlessly bureaucratic and complex from a paperwork standpoint alone, not to mention meetings. The program is unwieldy when it comes to staffing, and many of those called do not put in the time or passion that willing volunteers would, causing the boys to suffer. I have personally observed that scouting often becomes more about the end result of awards and titles than the learning or service (my brother in law is in the process of completing his eagle project, and he doesn’t say anything about the organization he’s trying to help, just that he wanted a quick and easy project so he can get his eagle before his 18th birthday next week). There is also a cost to scouting in the disparity of the time and resources the church allocates to boys vs. girls, particularly in the 8-11 year old age range.

      The church severing official ties with the BSA wouldn’t prevent boys who want to participate in scouting from doing so. I’m confident the church could come up with a program on its own that takes the best elements from scouting while being much more efficient and relevant. I also hope that some elements of the scouting program are applied to the YW; the Personal Progress program is great, but it is almost entirely focused on spiritual things. I would love to see more practical skills thrown in the mix.

      Also, please don’t insinuate any of us aren’t following the counsel of prophets if we express concerns about scouting.

  32. Susan S

    July 29, 2015

    Now for an alternative perspective. I am an active LDS mother of both a girl and boys, one of whom is a scouter with autism, a former Cub Scout committee chair through my ward, and wife to an assistant scout master in a community chartered Scout troop in a community that is a 120 round trip drive from our home. I have rarely seen the BSA program implemented as well inside the church (either In Cubs or scouts), or implemented well to enable disabled Scouters to participate. I will also say that years ago, I was a Girl Scout troop leader in a Catholic Parish chartered troop where more than three fouths of the girls and leaders were LDS, during our daughters’ activity day years. Scouting, when done well with direct and empassioned parental involvement, grows leaders and girls and boys of strong character. It is not the vehicle to teach youth the Gospel, nor is it the church’s responsibility to provide outdoor fun, skill building, or leadership programs for our youth. That is OUR Responsibility as their parents.

    We moved away from the Girl Scout program when some of its program and the direction of the national program troubled us. As long as BSA allows local troops and chartering organizations to choose leaders, I am not troubled by the recent announcements, and am sad (I think) for the distancing between the LDS Church and BSA, as I have been sad for years about the inadequacies in the church’s implementation of Scouting programs. I hope it all results in a clearer direction for the YM program as its focus can turn to developing testimony of the Savior, and preparation to serve Him and His children.

    • eljee

      July 29, 2015

      You said exactly what I was trying to say earlier in this conversation, but you said it much better. Thank you!

  33. MM

    July 29, 2015

    This has been and issue I have struggled with for years. I love every thing Michelle said.

    The first scout camp that my son attended, several boys were molested by another boy. There is no merit badge in the world that is more necessary than innocence in a fallen world. My son was not molested, but he was robbed of his innocence. He had good, trained leaders, who were following the rules. I have heard countless stories of molestation, pornography and exposure to drugs that all occurred on church-sponsered campouts. To me, this is unacceptable.

    BSA should be an optional, extra-curricular activity. There are good things about it. There are good things about karate, and piano, and swim team. I don’t need to be assigned expensive, time-consuming hobbies, all under the guise of church activity.

    I have a son who just turned 9. His Bear leader (an avid scouter) shamed him for not wearing a blue neckerchief. On a hot summer day, that is a useless, ugly and expensive accessory. A friend gave us a an old neckerchief (I refuse to buy this overpriced crap), but I am so annoyed that my son’s feelings were less important than being in a full uniform to play in someone’s backyard.

    I have heard someone paraphrase that Pres. Monson says the Church stays in scouting for all the boys, not just the members of the church. I am all for helping others, and creating strong communities. But, I resent that a “for-profit” organization, whose CEO makes a 6 figure salary, needs our Church to carry it. If the program has merit, it should stand on it’s own. And those who desire to participate in it, can continue to do so, outside of church activities.

  34. Rozy

    July 29, 2015

    I just wanted to say that the purpose of most of those “useless” merit badges is to introduce young men to many fields of study and endeavors as a way to help them explore and possibly find a future career; something parents and schools fail to do for the most part. We have four sons, three of whom are Eagles and the fourth is almost there. Our one son who served a mission used the skills he built during his scouting years the whole time he served in Argentina. He was so grateful he knew how to survive with rope and a pocketknife!

    I do agree with many commentors that the paperwork in onerous, and the program is not always run as it should and could be. My hope is that the church will adopt the best of scouting to integrate into the YM’s program to match the inspired YW’s program. In areas, like ours, where there are few boys, I wish the stake leaders would combine the wards for Mutual so our youth would have a larger peer group of like-minded youth to experience growing up with. Our youngest son is now the only young man in our ward, and there are only two active young women. Not near enough for effective activities, service or learning. Even though our travel would increase we feel it would be worthwhile to keep our children close to and growing in the gospel.

    • Tamora Muir

      July 29, 2015

      Thank you for your positive comments. I feel that many of these comments have turned Scouts into a punching bag for those who are frustrated with the demands on their time (and their children’s time). Not that the complaints are spurious! I believe them!

      Scouting has a lot of good in it. But it may indeed be time to move on.

  35. Heather Tolen

    July 29, 2015

    Thank you! You have captured my feelings exactly. It’s not that I dislike scouting, nor that I disapprove of the BSA allowing gay scout leaders. But I have long struggled with the disparity between YM (read: Scouts) and YW programs when it comes to funding, and I have felt frustrated that my sons weren’t really doing much at all with Duty to God because of the emphasis on merit badges and earning that Eagle. The Eagle is great–but compared to the physical, emotional, and spiritual growth that the girls achieve through the Personal Progress program, it’s hardly worth the massive funding we send in the direction of BSA. I, too, would love to see the church revamp the Duty to God program for boys and make it more like the Personal Progress program, and let’s send all the youth on more campouts, and out into the community to do service.

  36. Adam G.

    July 29, 2015

    I was initially looking forward to leaving the BSA, but if doing so means we get a bunch of feminist whining every time the program for boys gets a penny more or a second of leader’s time more than the girls, bring on the gay scoutmasters.

    • Vanessa

      July 29, 2015

      Adam G, I understand that you are probably trolling, but put yourself in the other’s shoes for a moment. What if the women were 99 percent of the scripture heroes, all the most visible leaders, and compromised all of the Diety.

      I don’t think it is hard to imagine it might make it hard for a little boy or young man to understand his place in the kingdom if his female led ward also spent twice as much money and time on the girls. Plus gave all the girls 12 and up titles and visible duties in the ward.

      This is how I explained it to my husband and how he had an epiphany that it wasn’t just feminist whining. Boys get shown all the time how important they are to God, women often get told one thing and shown another. How do you show your children they are important to you? By giving your resources- time and money to them.

      My son and daughter are a year apart, and my daughter very much notices these discrepancies. They are in cub scouts and activity days.

    • EL

      July 29, 2015

      Adam, if you were a regular reader, or even had just read all of the comments of this post, you would see the nearly always respectful tone of this forum. Even amongst those who disagree. It is one of the reason I love this blog. I think calling this “a bunch of feminist whining” is inappropriate. I hope you would reconsider your comment.

    • Angela H.

      July 29, 2015

      Wow. I didn’t think it was possible to be condescending and contemptuous towards women, homosexuals, AND the BSA all in one sentence, but you pulled it off. Hat-trick!

    • Michelle L.

      July 30, 2015

      I think anyone who knows me would laugh to hear me called a feminist!

  37. Becky K

    July 29, 2015

    I didn’t take time to read all of the comments, so I may be a repeat of what others have said.

    But: BRILLIANT! As the mom of boys, and as a secretary in YW, I couldn’t agree more. My part-member family makes scouting in my family….difficult at best. My husband would understand our sons going to a church-sponsored program much more readily than scouting. It seems like missionary work in sheep’s clothing to him. I would love, love to see the girls and boys programs more aligned and the boys be more spiritually focused.

  38. IDIAT

    July 29, 2015

    I agree we can do better, I just hope we get YM leaders off their duffs and make them actually do better. My contention is that there’ s nothing in the handbooks that prevent YW from camping and doing outdoor types of things. They are limited, as are the boys, by budget constraints and by lack of willingness by the average YW leader to plan and carry out such activities. My hope: Part from BSA. Beef up DTG, include whatever elements (social, cultural, educational kinds of ‘goals’ you want) Beef up Personal Progress to include some of the outdoor/conservation opportunities (Like the old girls camp approach) Free up both YW and YM to fund raise for one week of camp and one high adventure per year ( I personally wouldn’t care if they did more high adventures). Require church units to allocate budget money on a per capita basis (they’ve already been doing that in my ward the last 30 years, and that’s how the
    “extra” portion comes out of SLC.) At that point, the YM and YW programs will be essentially “equal” in the sense of money and leadership; then it will be up to the adult and youth leaders of individual programs to make decisions regarding activities. I hate to use the phrase separate but equal, but I think if budget money and fund raising is equal, that’s about as fair as you can ask.

    • Amanda

      July 31, 2015

      I’ve enjoyed the thoughtful, insightful and meaningful comments from this article. I think most of us have, at the very least, wondered about the discrepancies between the YM and Yw programs of the church.
      That said, Idiat, I take issue with your comment “I just hope we get YM leaders off their duffs and make them actually do better.” Your experience must be very different than mine – and I feel mine is pretty extensive. My husband has served in the YM program, or as Bishop, for the 20 years of our marriage. I am sitting here tonight while he is on another weekend campout. He has been gone for some period of every week this summer, including two full weeks for high adventure and a Woodbadge training course. He is also a trainer for Woodbadge this year which has required several full Saturdays. He works a demanding job (55-65 hours a week when it is not tax season) and does his best to plan and fit in meaningful activities for the boys each week. He also respects the “boy-led” approach in scouts which actually requires more time to help the boys understand their leadership responsibilities than if he just did it himself. His counselors and other young men leaders are juggling the same schedules. One of his counselors hasn’t been on a family vacation in 9 years because all of his vacation goes to scouts. I am in total awe of the wives of the adult scouters in the wards we have served in. They are selfless and serving and appreciative and actively sacrifice their family time. They also struggle with a love/hate relationship with scouting. I know other callings are demanding, but I think scouts and YM are right up there with the most. I have learned when I criticize others for their lack of effort in their calling, I am always lacking information and end up feeling foolish. We are all doing the best we can with the time and resources we have. I love and appreciate the sacrifice of all of the volunteer work the Saints put forth in our behalf. I know much of it is unsung and unseen.
      I could go on, but I am going to get my emotional, 38-week pregnant self off the computer and go play with my 10, 8, 6 and 4 year old. I am trying to teach my 6-yr-old to ride a bike while my husband is “sitting on his duff” somewhere in the mountains. I’m sure its a sight!

  39. Susan Curtis

    July 29, 2015

    Adam,
    This thread is full of examples of the disparity that exists and bringing that up is not “feminist whining.” It is the reality that many have experienced as youth and again as leaders. I still remember when we had a joint fund-raiser in my youth, with the young women doing most of the work on the bake sale and car wash, to raise funds for a super activity for the YM/YW. Then the YM leaders suggested that they use the money for the boys and that the following year there would be an activity for the girls. That never happened. So while the guys went snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park, the girls had a fireside where an overweight middle-aged woman warned us about immorality using food metaphors. We were all pretty upset, almost enough to disobey the “don’t burn your beans” counsel in protest.

    When I was a leader with 12-14 Activity Day Girls, I was given an annual budget of $40, a tenth of what the Cub Scouts got, with fewer than half as many boys. Please don’t label us as “feminist whiners” when we try to bring these inequities to the attention of leaders, or someone who might care. Or perhaps you can tell that mother how to explain to her daughter the differences between what she gets to do and what her brother gets to do.

    My mother is a Silver Beaver, and I come from a scouting family, and I have served as a Den Mother twice, but I think the time is definitely approaching where there will be a break from the unwieldy organization of the BSA and I hope we will replace it with a program that will strengthen our boys, including, I hope, a program designed to keep them or reclaim them from the evils of pornography. And since we don’t want to leave our YW out, we also need to address those issues with the YW and the ways in which they are vulnerable and their choice of reading/viewing materials and media and their online behavior.

    Let us all pray for our leaders that they will be inspired to know how and when and what to do.

    • Becci Lammi

      August 1, 2015

      Tiffany,

      I have lived quite a long life. I have had associations with gay men and women. I have a gay family member. Those without same sex attraction do not comprehend the numerous and diverse temptations that those with SSA suffer sometimes daily. It is not wise nor kind to do what you suggest.

  40. Angela H.

    July 29, 2015

    Great post, Michelle. I have three boys and often struggled to get behind Scouting. That said, after some good experiences with Scouting in two different wards, my position has softened somewhat and I can see the value in it, when it is done correctly. The same can be said of Little League baseball, violin lessons, or participating in a musical, however. Scouting to me is much like all these valuable activities–meaningful extra-curricular activities that some choose to participate in and others don’t. It makes so much sense to me that if Mormons want to continue to associate with Scouting they can do it by forming their own troops OUTSIDE official church channels, much like members of other churches do around the country. Those who value Scouts can continue to participate, but the rest of us will enjoy the flexibility and gospel focus of a strong YM program that doesn’t have to compete with Scouts, and perhaps see financial savings, increased parity between programs for boys and girls, and ward members freed up for callings in other needed areas. Winning all around.

  41. heather arnita

    July 29, 2015

    Adam – I’m a feminist and proud of it!

  42. Cathy Jeppsen

    July 29, 2015

    I completely agree with your point of view! When I found out our third baby was going to be a son my first thought was of not wanting to deal with the whole scouting program. I’m excited to see what will come next for the boys of our Church.

  43. Vanessa

    July 29, 2015

    I for one would welcome the change. My little boy loooves cub scouts, but I think the church could make a program that is more inclusive that he would love just as much if not more. By inclusive, I mean financially inclusive. He needed a cub shirt, book, neckerchief, metal neckerchief thingy , and belt. Easily set us back about $100 just to join, he will need new ones of everything but the shirt when he changes rank yearly, and a new shirt for weebloes in a few years. The scout leaders give candy to the kids who wear their uniform every week. They also must be in uniform to participate in flag ceremonies. They won’t let the kids’ participate if they forget any part of the uniform. I can tell you there are many financially struggling families in our ward, one with twins who are embarrassed, but cannot afford even a used uniform.

    Scout camp is also $400 per boy, after all of the fees the church pays and Girls camp is $100 per girl. We can do better cheaper.

    I have a daughter in activity days and am appalled at the difference in ward resources spent. Our ward had 2 women called for about 35 girls. The cub scouts have 11 leaders, plus a committee of parents that meet. They put the most effective leaders in cubs as opposed to activity days because they want to keep the boys advancing. The boys also get their whole families together every month to watch them get awards and an additional 3 times a year for pinewood derby, raingutter regada, and bike rodeo.

    Our girls don’t meet at least every two weeks, it is maximum twice a month, even in 5 week months. When they get together, they usually color or play tag for 45 minutes and are sent to the gym to run around until parents get there. My daughter has caught on and is sad and hurt that she isn’t doing the things her brother who is a year older is doing.

    They took away the faith in God necklace for the girls, the explanation I got was that they don’t want the girls being motivated by a token reward. Isn’t that what cub scouts is designed around?

    I think if they get rid of cub scouts, they will revamp both programs and elevate both of them because they will design them from the ground up. Cub scouts will get more spiritual and less bureaucratic, and the girls program will be more structured and the ward will have more people to fill callings helping kids. 1 very capable person in our ward has the calling to handle all of the boy scout/cub scout paperwork and certifications for the leaders.

  44. Rodney R

    July 29, 2015

    This write up is exactly how I feel. Great job- I thought my wife and I were the only ones who felt this way. I don’t care about the recent decisions, I’ve felt they way you do since I joined the Church and got called into scouting which I had no previous experience. I have spent lots of time in both Cub Scout and Boy Scouts had the calling as Scoutmaster, Asst Scoutmaster, Den Leader ,etc. I really enjoyed taking the boys out camping and teaching them skills that would be important to know in life. There are lots of great things scouting teaches but I have always thought the Church could create a better program that tied into DTG and was more relevant to doing this versus fees, forms, badges, procedures. My kids don’t enjoy the scouting part of it and I don’t either but want to also support the people called as their leaders and support the programs of the Church but..

    From the time I went to my first leadership training I realized that making someone worry about their uniform or how you have to sew a patch exactly here was not right in my eyes, is it really that important? ( Some adults get so involved they are scary mega scouters who are over the top on rules and the program 🙂 Anyway- The amount of money everything costs is unreal, and the profits of the BSA must be wonderful. As a business professional what made me really question things was once I found out the salaries of the BSA executives that got leaked. Did you know their CEO makes more than the Red Cross CEO which is the largest non-profit in the world. Pretty much all the Executives down to the area/district make way too much for this to be a non-profit.. Hard to want to donate with friends of scouting when bonuses are given for new scouts that non paid volunteers brought in . All the “must have” clothing and pins, loops, badges, fees- that they need more money? Really? Yeah its a money maker that the Church has given a lot to and sure we could do it better and for way less. I would like to see more balance in YM/YW activity spending and have faith in Church leadership we could do it and do it well-

    The above is only part of it, I always wanted to teach the kids is was important to earn that badge or rank if you wanted to but what most important was to come and to have fun. Scouting part was second in my eyes so I focused more on DTG ,wanting kids to have fun, feel loved which the Church is good at doing and I am praying they break ties from the BSA and launch our own program !

    • Ralph

      July 30, 2015

      The spending part is troublesome for sure. Based on my experience with scouting in several wards, I would suggest a gut check on the “kids don’t like the badges and uniform” part of your world view right now. Our current troop has had 8-10 boys. They have worn their shirts without any real complaint and it has helped them identify as part of the group. Those who can’t afford it we have helped. We don’t go crazy with how things are sown on and we just ask for shirts and that they are tucked in. Each week when they come with a shirt tucked in a their book (so we could see how they were progressing) they get one point. With so many points, a party. At the start of the meeting we count points together and we’re done – no drama. We set the points so they can reasonably earn a party twice a year or so. Kids that age seem to be super motivated by awards and points, etc. Plus, we counseled a lot with them as we set it up. The boys have been really generous with those who don’t wear them.

      My experience with this is that, generally speaking, the boys follow the leaders expectations and enthusiasm. If the leader does not like merit badges, he is likely to act that way and/or talk that way. The boys follow. If the leader sees value in learning about a variety of careers and life skills in a hands-on way and connects with the value of merit badges to do that, he has a tendency to act that way and/or talk that way. The boys follow.

      We have done great merit badges together: first aid (a nurse from the ward helped us), engineering (two retired engineers from the ward helped), and others. Our scoutmaster loves the kids, he loves to have fun, and he sees the value of helping the kids see progression as a result of their efforts.

  45. C

    July 29, 2015

    Another issue that few are aware of is the non-protection provided to the leader’s personal information that must be provided in the required background check. After being extended a calling in scouting, a computer-aware family member looked into the processes involved in the background check and was appalled. He had no problem with the background check itself, but the background check done through scouting did not protect his information effectively. Most companies that asks for a background check from their employee candidates doesn’t do it themselves, but asks for an legitimate outside company that specializes in background checks to do it for them. Scouting should really do this as well. A LDS church member should not have to make a choice between compromising their personal information and accepting an extended calling, yet this is the choice ever member makes when asked to participate in scouting, whether they realize it or not.

  46. Stephanie

    July 29, 2015

    I have had literal pits in my stomach as I’ve watched the Boy Scout program take over our fall breaks, spring breaks, and 4th of July holidays. I was in tears this summer trying to find a week that our family could go on a vacation because I have a twelve year old and a 14 year old who’s week long camps never coincide. I have always contended that the BSA is one of the great thwarters of family time. I have one son who does not love camping and hiking. This has been so difficult because it seems like every YM weekly activity is about planning for, going on hikes to prepare for, and cleaning up after camps. Certainly there are more meaningful activities that could be planned for our young men who are facing a more and more troubling world. If my son doesn’t participate in scouting, then it means he isn’t participating in the YM program. But he finds little to no satisfaction in the scouting activities. What is a mother to do? I have been hoping and praying that something would come along that would require the church to rethink a program that is becoming less and less beneficial to this rising generation of young men.

  47. Jenny

    July 29, 2015

    Such an interesting discussion here. I really enjoyed your post, and the comments. I am SO hopeful that the Church will split from the BSA.

    Scouts can be great — but making it an obligatory part of religious worship is not great for either party. I think it has harmful side effects for both the Church and Scouts.

    When I saw the press release I had to say something — I put up a website on change dot org called “Mormons in favor of Separation of Church and Scout.” I know they aren’t asking for a vote or anything of that nature. But I think if they knew how many members struggle with scouting – particularly with the gender inequality of how it’s run — I think it would make a difference. If you’d like to sign and share — please do:

    https://www.change.org/p/the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints-mormons-for-separation-of-church-and-scout

  48. Richard Gamble

    July 29, 2015

    I have mixed feelings about it. If I had my preferences, we would stay with scouts but enroll the young women in Venturing Scouts when they turn 16. These days the YM and YW at this age are both looking at missions, jobs, schooling and such. I personally feel we have lost young men because we have done too much of the Duty to God program and not as much of the scouting program. I have a son that went to early morning seminary and to go to another scripture reading event in the evening would be difficult for me to justify having him attend. I know that for me, if the mutual program consisted of Duty to God, I wouldn’t have attended as a youth. Today there are even more things that would have gotten my attention.

    Here’s my concern with moving away from scouts. It all sounds good, but I recall one year when our bishopric found that there may be women at scout camp. They got very concerned for some reason and thought a better option would be to run our own scout camp. Well, if you’ve seen the planning that goes into girl’s camp, you have an idea of the amount of effort they were proposing. I think the learning curve could be quite high and need to be maintained for a quality program.

    Who knows? Maybe there is another program out there the church could adopt. I’m just hesitant to equate leaving with meaning whatever we go to would be better. It may not be better. Just different.

  49. Jackie

    July 30, 2015

    This is one mother of two Boy Scouts, one Eagle, one almost Eagle, who has LOVED every second of my affiliation with the scouting program with church. The one thing I have always stressed is that scouting is a parent run program, not a church run program. And that is where a lot of the problems are. We depend too much on the church to run the program, and there is not enough parent involvement. I have seen some fabulous scout programs in the church, and some not so great ones. My boys have been blessed with some really great leaders who care and do their best, but ultimately parents also have to step up and do their part. This is the way in any scouting program outside the church. Scouting teaches core values that my older son who is on a mission right now says have really helped him. Neither one of the wards I have been in have ever done the popcorn program. That is an individual choice, you can come up with your own fundraising program if you want to. (Popcorn is indeed a joke.) Merit badges are not useless as someone previously stated. They teach organization, strategies for learning, setting goals. My older son had a goal to get his Eagle before he was 14. He raised $4,000 and built a playground for preschoolers with autism when he was 13 years old. I ask you, is this a wasted program? My younger son has autism and is earning merit badges, going to merit badge colleges on his own, and is setting goals to earn an Eagle. He wants to assist an animal shelter. Is this a waste? He also is getting his Duty to God like his older brother. Is this a waste? NO! They both have learned to set goals, manage their time, pull great grades in school, be involved in other activities, and stay actively involved in church and be a great example to those around them. They have done this in the face of great adversity as well (going through moves, my divorce, etc…). But the values they learned in scouting have helped them. And I stayed involved and supported them through all of this (and I am out of the house literally almost 12 hours a day for my job). Plus I also have a husband and three step-daughters that are not members of the church.

    And the one thing I have always felt strongly about is that the first road to apostasy is being critical of doctrine or policies. Some may call this blind faith; if you knew me you’d know that I am definitely rogue enough to never follow anything blindly and have been battle scarred way beyond belief… lol (beaten, abused as a child, death, divorce, … etc…). It may be time to re-evaluate some things, and I am not happy about the way the BSA handled this. However, I still love the scouting program and what it teaches. I would be very sad to see it go.

    • Ralph

      July 30, 2015

      Thanks for sharing that. Really well said. Your involvement, as in any aspect of raising our children, remains the most important part. And, like your troops, ours has never touched the popcorn fundraiser. Our ward (last 15 years) has done a variety of things from an annual Christmas tree pickup, to an auction/dinner, to Christmas wreath sales (not for a while). Some of that depends on geography, but as inconvenient as fundraisers are, I appreciate that our ward has tried to prayerfully find something that involves everyone, raises enough money, provides some ward unity as we go, etc.

      What’s been running about my brain the last few days is that a new program is not going to magically make things better if the involvement levels from leaders and parents does not change. We are all imperfect and those levels will always vary from ward to ward. And, this is still the Lord’s Church and He still loves us for some reason. 🙂

      At the end of the day, as imperfect as we are, He knows he can make things right in the end – say for those who have a bad scouting experience or, your case, has had more serious challenges in life (thanks for sharing). We don’t have that ability and so many things will continue to stress us out, so we need to just trust Him and pray for love for each other. I’m guessing you are way ahead of me in both regards given your life experiences and your apparent attitude about it. Good for you!

      • Amira

        July 30, 2015

        For me, a new program would help. I think that scouting teaches a lot of good things but I have serious reservations about the organization. I have turned down a scouting calling because I wasn’t willing to give my time to BSA, but I told the person issuing the calling that I would do what the calling entailed if it was a calling with the youth of the ward, both young women and young men. But they needed someone who could be a BSA person so they called someone else.

        Of course there are people who won’t help either way and there are lot of reasons why parents aren’t involved with their children’s activities- some bad but a lot of good reasons. But if you take away all the trappings, paperwork, and baggage of scouting, you just get a youth program and that can work amazingly well. Just ask all the YM living in places where scouting isn’t available and every single YW in the church. If we’ve been doing it for 75% of the youth already, we can do it for the other 25%.

    • Vanessa

      July 30, 2015

      One problem with that model is that many of the parents are overloaded on other callings. My husband and myself would very much like to volunteer in cubs or activity days with our children, and have made that known. We have been given busier callings that conflict with the timing and energy of scouts. We are overloaded and have many children. If we could just volunteer for callings, we would sign up joyfully in a heartbeat. We keep our son progressing to get his awards, but are unable to attend committee meetings or anything else.

    • Alice

      July 30, 2015

      Disliking a program is not the same thing as being critical of doctrine. Being obedient does not always mean enthusiastically embracing things we find dislike; it means doing something *even though* we dislike it. I hate BSA, truly, and my sentiments are shared to some degree by most of the other commenters. But one thing to notice is that *we’re all involved with BSA anyway*.

      • Ralph

        July 31, 2015

        It is cool that so many serve, even if they aren’t fans. To the point made about this being the Lord’s money and that He is in charge – I was thinking yesterday that this is how the Lord has impressed His Apostles and Prophets and the councils with which they converse, to spend the widow’s mite. Perhaps we should be praying to love the program that He seems so interested in. I would suppose that our hate as adults is a large contributor to the challenges in effectively implementing scouting as an appendage to the priesthood.

        • Alice

          July 31, 2015

          That’s a good point.

  50. Jo

    July 30, 2015

    I think a big issue is the YW leaders/parents not stepping up. There is no reason the YW cannot currently be going on campouts once a month, rappelling, learning robotics or programming, etc. Those activities take a lot of time, effort, and volunteers which not many are able or willing to give. This falls on me too. I don’t have the confidence to take the youth repelling on my own or the skills to teach them to make and program robots. I’m not sure what the solution is to be honest. I know I want the youth programs to not have so much discrepancy and I want my daughters and sons to have opportunities to try and learn many skills.

    I would love to hear how others think we can help the YW program. Do they need a larger budget? Calling females and males to be youth activity leaders to boys and girls instead of just men over boys and vice versa (if that makes sense)? Does the BSA association directly hurt the young women program?

    • Amira

      July 30, 2015

      I’d love to see a joint activity/life skills/service program for all of the youth that is run by both women and men in conjunction with youth leaders. We could keep Personal Progress and Duty to God and do those twice a month and activities the other two weeks. I can think of no life skill or fun activity that both YM and YW wouldn’t benefit from and I think it is very important that all of the youth have both women and men as leaders. This is huge to me.

      I think there are some ways that you could argue that the direct association with BSA hurts YW, but overall I think the biggest problem is that it puts a disproportionate amount of a ward’s limited resources (especially time and money, and especially in smaller wards) into the boys in the ward instead of the youth of the ward. This doesn’t happen in every ward, of course, but it definitely can happen.

      • Megan

        July 30, 2015

        I think that is it. Wards have limited resources. It is also why it is hard to get trained people into scouting troops and leave them for a long time like BSA wants. They are always criticizing the LDS troops for not leaving people in long enough, but the resources are so limited when you have so many other callings to fill. There is no way you could run a parallel program for YW because there are not enough people.

    • Cyl

      August 2, 2015

      The handbook restricts YW to one camp out per year, and many bishops/SP interpret this to mean YW camp only. We fought hard to take our YW camping this year, because the older ones were going on trek, which is mixed-gender. We took the beehives along in spite of them having an upcoming beehive-only camp. We figured we could ask forgiveness later if the handbook was waved in our faces.

  51. joy

    July 30, 2015

    As I’ve looked through the comments, a few things seem overlooked regarding the expense of scouting (forgive me if I skimmed your comment too lightly!)

    As a former committee chair, cubmaster, den leader, and activity days leader (and mother of 6 boys, 2 girls) I’ll first admit that I’ll be delighted if we leave scouts for some of the same reasons y’all have enumerated. When it comes to the questions of expense, I agree that I would never spend my own money on these belt loops and membership fees, etc.

    But it’s not our money. It’s the Lord’s money. And He’s entitled to spend it any way he wants. I think we speak amiss when we assume He’s wasting money. He can certainly make up any “lost” funds in any miraculous way he chooses. He can make up the difference to our girls in a variety of ways. He can also choose, with his money, to fund by paychecks the men and women around the nation who have devoted their professions to the building of boys’ character. I never loved Friends of Scouting but I didn’t resent that the Lord might be pleased if we consecrated some extra funds to acknowledge the professional contributions of people who aim to design leadership programs for boys. It isn’t wrong for national scout leaders to receive paychecks, even a six-figure paycheck if they have to run such a complicated organization.

    Some of you may think I’m naive about how tithing funds are approved and distributed. I know there’s a process, even a messy process. Of course. This is mortality. But I also literally believe that Jesus can and does speak frequently with his prophets and apostles. He is not an absentee master. He knows what is being approved and paid, and he can stop it at any time. If he doesn’t, I assume he has his reasons for allowing his money to be spent the way it is.

    President Monson and others have professed their love of scouting. But I’m sure you’d agree with me that there isn’t a single apostle who would refuse to leave scouting if Jesus asked them to. Of that I am absolutely certain. If we’re still there, it’s because of Jesus’s decision, not President Monson’s bias.

    So though I personally don’t love it, I’ll stay in if needed because Jesus certainly can see things I can’t. When I was in scouting, I sometimes went to the Lord in tears because of frustrations like the ones expressed above. When I nevertheless tried to fulfill my calling faithfully, I found that He was there miraculously in so many of the details. He wanted me to succeed in pack meetings and blue/gold banquets, etc. He absolutely knew and really cared about the details.

    The other thing I want to say is this. I understand your worries about parity for girls. I have daughters ages 14 and 8. But in my experience, the greatest hope of these and most girls is that there will someday be enough strong, righteous, wise boys who are prepared to marry and lead a family. We need more money for girls, and we unquestionably need to better use the money we have for boys. But please remember that investing in boys (as capable men) is really also a gift to girls in the long run.

    • Ralph

      July 31, 2015

      Thank you for that. I appreciate you bringing up this exactly central point. All other points made here are, or should be, subordinate to your comment. That is exactly the core issue. Thanks for bringing this to the table. I was thinking about this the other night, but I kept responding to other perspectives and forgetting to share this one. I am so very grateful you did!

    • Jenny

      July 31, 2015

      You bring up excellent points Joy. The crux of the issue is how we perceive the mix of humanity and divinity in our Church leadership.

      I believe our leaders to be inspired, absolutely. And I certainly believe the Lord to be directing the Church. But I think he directs it in a variety of ways, and with a subtle hand. He allows us so much freedom here on earth, and I think he allows our Church leaders a great deal of freedom in their decision making as well.

      One quick example of this (forgive me for this tangent into polygamy – but I think this is the best example to illustrate how much humanity can be involved in Church leadership decisions) — the 1890 manifesto that is canonized in our scriptures as Declaration 1 states: “We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice… There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved.”

      And then, from the new essay about polygamy on lds.org: “8 of 19 members of the Quorum of the Twelve who served between 1890 and 1904 married new plural wives during those years.”

      Now God is not a deceiver. I find it untenable to believe that he would give the Manifesto to end polygamy, and then in the same breath tell the Quorum of the 12 to take additional wives secretly over the next 14 years. None of these brethren were reprimanded for taking additional wives during this time. With the beginning and ending of polygamy I see a great deal of human error and decision making, and polygamy is a doctrinal issue. So could the LDS-BSA scouting arrangement be a product of tradition and culture, rather than directed by Jesus? I think so.

      Personally, I do not see the current LDS-Scout relationship as being an inspired one that has good effects. However, I think someone who fulfills their scouting calling in faith will be most certainly be blessed by their obedience — not because the principle of “boy scoutism” is correct, but because their faith that they were doing God’s will was sincere.

  52. Becki

    July 31, 2015

    I dare say you’re a very wise human. Great comment.

  53. Becci Lammi

    August 1, 2015

    I address this to all those who claim that the BSA’s vote to allow Gay leaders doesn’t bother them. It always comes off sounding disingenuous to me, as if the person saying this is trying too hard to be “cool” and “trendy”. Even though LDS units would not allow Gay leaders, for obvious reasons (temptation with close proximity to young boys), some non-LDS units would. And yes, we all know at least one gay man that would make a good scouter, but is it appropriate? Are you really that naive? We wouldn’t put a woman in a tent with boys and we wouldn’t put a man in a tent with girls. Are you aware that most gay men, especially outside of the church are not celibate/morally clean? Are you aware that some gay men prey on young boys? Ever heard of NAMBLA? Wake up! The BSA’s decision taints the entire organization.

    • Cyl

      August 2, 2015

      I disagree, and am not trying to be trendy or cool.

      We don’t put any men in tents with boys, now women in tents with girls, not in BSA, not is GS, and not in the church’s youth programs; it’s not allowed.

      I am aware that most humans, in and outside the church, do not fit the church’s definition of “morally clean.” I am aware that a percentage of humans, mostly straight men, but also some gay men, and some straight women, and some gay women, prey on children. Keeping openly gay men out of scouting leadership has not kept the straight pedophiles from molesting scouts.

    • RMM

      August 3, 2015

      What Cyl said.

      I still can’t get my mind around the repeated protests from a number of people about “putting them together in a tent.” Since no unrelated adults should be together with children in a tent on any of these outings, I’m wondering what the actual, unstated fear is. I personally think these commenters don’t want to be around gay people at all.

      It’s too bad that ship has sailed. You are around gay people, even if you don’t know it. What did our beloved Chieko Okazaki say?

      “It is very likely that every person in the Church knows someone—a family member or a friend—who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. I also think it is very likely that many people do not know that they know a homosexual or bisexual person because that person is afraid to reveal that part of himself or herself for fear of being rejected, punished, or excluded.

      “Nothing has suspended the commandment of Jesus to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens” (Chieko Okazaki, Disciples, 121).

  54. Jodi

    August 2, 2015

    I spent 4 years in my later teens working at a couple of different scout camps, one near yellowstone and one on catalina island. Those were the best summers of my life, and I even met my husband there. My dad was always a huge scouter, and my older brothers also worked at the camps. Even 10 years later, we still go up to visit the camp each year, and now the next generation in my family is doing it too. So I definitely have some scouting experience. I will be the first to tell you that the LDS troops were usually the most unorganized and had the most problems. It’s just really hard to make it completely successful in an environment where boys are expected to take part and not there just because they want to be there. So I absolutely can see how a different program could be more ideal. However, it really saddens me when I hear other moms who say things along the lines of “thank goodness, now I don’t have to do it with my boys” (not that I got that message from you). There is SO much more to lose. The scouting program is such a benefit in teaching youth so many good things, including an appreciation and respect for nature. I can’t even begin to count the number of boys, and girls like myself, who i have heard first hand say that their lives have been fundamentally shaped by their experience with scouting and the te.spent in the beautiful wilderness. My concern mainly is for the scouting professionals in the intermountain west who could lose their careers and the camps, and the camps that could cease to be. The camp where I worked is nestled in between yellowstone and the tetons, and for years it has been a battle with the forest service who hate that it belongs to the bsa. They don’t like that it’s filled up with grubby little scouts who hike into yellowstone by the dozens every week every summer. They want it to belong to a for profit group, people who will fill it with responsible and nature loving adults. Won’t they fail to recognize is the hundreds of youth who become responsible and nature loving adults because of the time spent at this camp. Kids who return year after year as scouts, then come as staff, then continue to visit for decades bringing their children and grandchildren- having a fierce love of wilderness and not littering and not walking off trails and on and on. If we lose the bsa, we lose this camp and others like it for certain. And opportunities to give our youth a drep rooted love for their beautiful earth. A great great tragedy.

    I don’t know what the right answer is in this situation, but I cannot imagine what I’ve experienced and others for decades coming to an end.

    • RMM

      August 3, 2015

      My children have had very limited wilderness experiences during their Scout years. As in, almost none, since their Scout camps didn’t require much interaction with nature.

      And why wouldn’t a beefed-up Young Men program include wilderness experiences? Any reason why severing the official ties to BSA would mean they couldn’t be camping and spending time in the great outdoors just like the Young Women?

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