Church Replacing Varsity and Venturing Scouting with New Activities Program
Contributed By Jason Swenson, Church News staff reporter, and Camille West, LDS.org Church News
The First Presidency has announced that effective January 1, 2018, the Church will discontinue its Varsity and Venturing Scouting programs for young men ages 14–18 in the United States and Canada, replacing them with a new activities program.
“We are grateful for our long-standing and continuing partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada,” the First Presidency stated in a letter to leaders dated May 11, 2017, which included an expression of gratitude and appreciation for the support of adult Scouting leaders.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serves as the Church’s representative as a National Executive Board Member of the Boy Scouts of America.
“I wish to commend the BSA leaders who have been so supportive of the Church’s decision to cease participating in the Varsity and Venturing programs,” he said. “They have been understanding, kind, and very professional. We are grateful for their interest in us, in our youth, and in our worldwide need.”
Why the change?
According to the Questions and Answers online, the change is an effort to better meet the needs of young men ages 14–18 in the Church, who are not being served well by the Varsity and Venturing Scouting programs that are difficult to implement on a local level.
The Church “continues to work toward developing a program for young men and young women globally,” according to the statement.
New activities program
In place of Varsity and Venturing Scouting, wards and branches may begin using the Church’s new Aaronic Priesthood 14–18 activities as early as June 1, 2017. The simplified program:
- Provides fun, meaningful activities that provide opportunities for balanced personal growth and development.
- Allows youth and their adult advisers to more fully focus on priesthood-related activities.
- Meets local needs.
Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President stated, “With this new focus, leaders will have a program that meets the diverse interests of young men, develop important life skills, and deepen conversion.”
Charles Dahlquist, BSA’s national commissioner, told the Church News he is confident that the Church will implement an inspired, enlightened future activity program for teacher and priest quorums.
For more information on the new activities program, see the guidelines (available in English, Spanish, and French) and the Questions and Answers online. A database of activities is available at ymactivities.lds.org and lds.org/youth/activities.
Wards and branches are encouraged to continue with planned activities as they review and determine how they will implement the new activity guidelines.
Continuing Scouting programs
The Church will continue its Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys ages 8 through 13 because they “meet the development program needs of boys from ages 8 through 13.” It will also be involved in Friends of Scouting. The First Presidency letter states that “young men over the age of 14 who desire to continue to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout or Queen Scout should be encouraged and supported in their efforts and should be properly registered as Scouts.”
Brother Dahlquist, former Young Men General President (2004-2009), said chartering organizations such as the Church can choose which Scouting programs to utilize.