Mormon church pulls older teens out of Boy Scouts

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will shift its focus from Scouting for boys aged 14-18 to that of its young men program, which is meant to provide spiritual, social and physical activities for teenagers.

The Mormon church announced Thursday that older teens in the United States and Canada will no longer take part in two Boy Scouts programs beginning in January, KUTV reported.

She attributed the church's move not to sexuality issues but to the church's desire for a Mormon youth program more focused on preparing teenage boys to go on church missions. These activities are created to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development. The LDS church says the change will impact approximately 180,000 boys nationwide.

The Mormon church has been involved in scouting for more than a century.

The church made the announcement on Thursday.

The Varsity and Venturing programs, which stress outdoor pursuits or challenging sports activities, were not meeting the needs of LDS boys and were hard to implement, the church said.

"We have seen that a very small percentage of the current LDS Varsity Teams and Venturing Crews run the defined program and that is not the objective", Gailey said. Scouting is available only in the US and Canada. "This change will allow youth and leaders to implement a simplified program that meets local needs while providing activities that balance spiritual, social, physical and intellectual development goals for young men".

"We recognize that not all programs are a ideal fit for all partners", it said.

For those boys who still wish to work toward an Eagle Scout badge, the church told KUTV they will be "registered, supported and encouraged".

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Can young men in these age groups continue to earn the Eagle Scout award?

The LDS Church has reviewed its affiliation with the Scouting program over the years and continue to "look for ways to better serve its families and young people worldwide".

The church is continuing to support the Cub Scouts for boys between 8 and 10 years old and for Boy Scouts between 11 and 13.

The decision to allow gay Scoutmasters was met by a review of the church's affiliation with BSA in 2015.

"Boys do most of the work by that age already and then procrastinate the last little bit they need to do to get their Eagle until they're getting close to 18", Lockhart said.

The Boy Scouts of America are one of the top organizations in the country and world for training young men to be model citizens.

The council said it will continue to offer up its camping programs and facilities to LDS congregations and their young men and young women.

The church initially said it was "deeply troubled" by the Boy Scouts' policy change on gays but remained with the organization after receiving assurances it could appoint troop leaders according to its own religious and moral values. The LDS Church said the decision to drop the Varsity and Venture program is not a response to the BSA's recent policy changes.

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