The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will launch its new youth program Jan. 1. The program will replace the church’s former youth involvement with the Boy Scouts of America and its own programs such as Personal Progress, Duty to God and Faith in God. As reported in Tuesday’s Post Register, the Grand Teton Council of the Boy Scouts of America expects to lose around 80 percent of its members to the new LDS program.
Though the church program is slated to begin in less than two months, very few specifics have been released to the public or even to local church officials. Many of those involved in the program’s development have signed confidentiality agreements. A “Face to Face” event with LDS Church Elder Gerrit W. Gong will be broadcast live on Nov. 17, at which time more details will be given, according to the church’s website.
On Sept. 29, a 48-minute video was broadcast worldwide at LDS worship services. The video laid out for the first time, in broad strokes, the program’s goal: “To help each child and youth progress along the covenant path and meet the challenges of their life with faith in Jesus Christ.”
In contrast to Boy Scouts, the new program will be home-centered. Youth will be instructed to work on four categories of self-improvement: spiritual, physical, social and intellectual. These categories can be worked on through the areas of gospel learning, personal development, and service and activities. The major focus of the group will be individual goal-setting. In the video, children and teenagers are seen setting goals such as learning to bake, creating videos and passing academic exams. New technology, such as apps, will be used to help achieve these goals, said John Strobel, president of the Idaho Falls’ South Stake.
A group for younger children called “primary activities,” which already exists for girls, will be open to boys as well starting in January. However, boys and girls are still encouraged to be placed in separate groups.
A primary factor in the decision to split from the Boy Scouts of America was that the organization is only offered in the United States and Canada, according to Clarke Farrer, Grand Teton Scout executive. The new program will be available worldwide. According to the church’s video, the program will be adaptable to many different customs and cultures across the world.
“We know and we understand that cultures and circumstances are different all over the world,” said M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the LDS Quorum of Twelve Apostles, in the video. “Therefore, this program is adaptable. This program may be different based on where you live and your family circumstances.”
Until this year, the LDS church and its members gave more than $1 million per year to the Grand Teton Council of Boy Scouts. The same amount of money, if not more, will be put toward Idaho Falls’ LDS children and teenagers in the church’s new program, said Strobel.