With The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cutting ties to the Boy Scouts of America, questions regarding the future of the Boy Scouts of America have been up in the air. The cut off date is Jan.1, 2020, the Boy Scouts of America are doing the best they can to be prepared for the change.
Clark Farrer, scout executive at the Grand Teton Council, explained what the future holds for BSA, particularly in the southeastern Idaho area.
“We haven’t made any changes yet, but mentally we’re preparing for it,” Farrer said. “I’ve been putting together a task force to analyze our camping operations, and decided what we’re going to do relative to our camps and be ready by 2020.”
Farrer said that by 2020, he wants to make sure the Grand Teton Council is financially viable for all their operations and camps. This might mean having to cut some of the six camps currently in the council’s jurisdiction.
Farrer said there are positives that might result from the split of the Church and BSA.
“I think when all the dust settles, what’s left after that will be a much higher quality of scouting than anything we’ve had now or anything we’ve had in the council,” Farrer said.
Farrer said that scouting was originally designed for patrols to be about the size of 30 to100. With the LDS church, the size of the patrol is about 20. Farrer believes that with that gone the normal scouting size will return.
With the Church pulling out, Farrer said he believes scouting will be done the way it was intended when it was founded back in 1910. In addition, he said he believes that scouts who are more dedicated to scouting will stick around and continue to join.
“It will be a better quality scouting program,” Farrer said. “There has been a strong reluctance among LDS scouting leaders to take the leader specific training that is provided by the BSA.”
Farrer said that BSA has trainings available to make leaders as efficient as they can be, but some Latter-day Saint leaders who are called to be scoutmasters don’t go to that training. Farrer has listed that as a possible reason for why the Church has struggled or not been as effective in scouting as they’ve been in the past.
Farrer doesn’t believe that the break from the Church will be bad or awkward.
“If people take time to read the Church’s statement, it says that it’s the Church’s desire to remain a fully engaged partner in scouting for boys,” Farrer said. “It’s not a breakup, we are all in until we are all out.”
The Church’s statement, released on May 8, expressed similar points as Farrer. The Church expressed sentiments of gratitude and support of the values that the BSA law and oath represent and for the future of the BSA.
Farrer goes on to mention that many people believe that because of BSA’s recent changes, such as changing the name to the BSA and allowing scout leaders to be transgender or gay, led to the Church pulling out of scouting. However, Farrer said that is false.
“A lot of people think that because the BSA (made changes) that the LDS Church is cutting ties,” Farrer said. “They never said that. They said they were launching a new youth program in 2020, and because of that we need to cut ties with scouting.”
However, Farrer said, just because the Church is pulling out doesn’t mean it’s a permanent goodbye to scouting.
“I think in the near future, say the next 2-5 years, there’s going to be a fairly significant number of LDS young men that will want to continue in scouting,” Farrer said.