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A new activities program for young men ages 14–18 will replace the Varsity and Venturing Scouting programs in the United States and Canada beginning January 1, 2018.

May 11, 2017
Writer: David Payne

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 11, 2017, announced significant changes to the activity program for young men ages 14-18. (See the First Presidency Letter announcing these changes.) These changes will affect thousands of teenage boys nationwide. (See the changes.)

Beginning January 1, 2018, the scouting program will no longer be offered. The Church will instead focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals through other youth programs. 

Clarke Farrer who has worked with Boy Scouts of America for 30 years said the news was both surprising and disappointing.

"As I think about it, it's like you have four kids, you wake up and someone tells you they're taking two of your kids away," said Farrer.

Farrer is currently the Scout Executive for the Grand Teton Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He said this change will affect thousands in the Southeast Idaho area.

"We serve over 23,000 youth in our council," said Farrer. "I've estimated about 7,000 (will be affected)."

Although the LDS Church has made this announcement, anyone is still able to participate in Boy Scouts of America.

"If there is an LDS family that wants there son to continue in scouting and earn eagle, they can still keep them registered in scouting," said Farrer. "It's completely up to the gamily."

Farrer is also a member of the LDS Church and he said it will be interesting to see how wards in the Church will handle everything but he knows the leaders of the Church are inspired.

"I have a deep and abiding faith in the Church and the brethren," said Farrer. "I believe that the Church is run through inspiration."

Although the Church will no longer participate in BSA Varsity and Venturing programs, they will still participate in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys age 8 to 13.

Click below to hear the full interview with Clarke Farrer.