By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
‘Stay the course all the way to the end!’
That was the message given to local adult leaders of LDS-sponsored Boy Scout troops at a meeting held on Thursday night at the Logandale Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We have been instructed, and we are asking all of you now, to remain a fully engaged partner in the Scouting programs for the coming nineteen months,” said President Chuck Burt, a member of the LDS Logandale Stake Presidency. “We are approaching a transition period where it will be up to each of you to set the tone in your units and in the community. We hope that it will be a unified tone.”
After partnering for more than a century, the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced last month that they would be parting ways. According to a joint statement from the two organizations, the “Church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA, nor will it sponsor Scouting units after December 31, 2019.”
The reason cited for the change is the continued world-wide growth of the LDS Church.
“The Church has grown from a U.S.-centered institution to a worldwide organization, with a majority of its membership living outside the United States,” the joint statement reads. “The Church has increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally. In so doing, it will be necessary for the Church to disontinue its role as a chartered partner with BSA.”
No details have been given yet on what the new Church youth program will look like. But in the interim period before December 2019, Church Scout leaders are encouraged in the joint statement to remain “fully engaged partners” in the Boy Scout programs.
Burt acknowledged to local leaders that the natural inclination at this stage might be to start ramping down involvement in Scouting. But he emphasized that this is not the Church’s plan.
“Let’s not run faster or go out ahead of the brethren (Church leadership) on this,” Burt said. “In the spirit of obedience, just wait; wait for the 19 months and it will all work out. In the meantime, please be fully engaged. The boys will learn something from that; and the community will learn something too.”
In a brief instruction session, Logandale Stake High Council member Elwin Brown, who is also the Commissioner of the BSA Anasazi District, laid out a three-point plan for the transition.
His first point was a challenge to actually ramp up the Scouting programs over the next 19 months. “We would like the next year to be the most intense Scouting year ever in this community,” Brown said.
Brown instructed Scout leaders to encourage boys to achieve their next rank advancements, attend BSA-operated camps and continue in full activity rather than allowing them to just relax from the program.
“Don’t slack off or drop the ball,” Brown told the leaders. “Let’s don’t stop until the commitment is over.”
Brown’s second point was for the members of the Stake to continue financial support of the Scouting program. This was specifically in regards to the annual council-wide Friends of Scouting fundraiser.
Brown pointed out that the area council governing the southern Nevada region has been in operation for 75 years now. In that time, the council has overseen good results for countless boys, he said.
“Our challenge now is to send a final message of thanks to the Boy Scouts, and to the Las Vegas Area Council, over the next 19 months,” Brown said. “Let’s make it the largest Friends of Scouting donation ever during the 2018 and 2019 years. So that, when we leave, it will be funded for as long as possible.”
Brown’s third point was to address concerns that, after the shift occurs, the Boy Scout program might die out in the Moapa Valley community.
“I feel like it is on my shoulders to see that it doesn’t,” Brown said. “There are too many young men who still will need to earn their Eagle or receive the other benefits from this program. I don’t want to pull the rug out from under them or deprive them of that experience.”
Brown said that he is committed to starting a community-sponsored Boy Scout troop, within the next year or so, to fulfill those needs on an ongoing basis.
Community-based Scout troops have been formed in Moapa Valley in the past. But there are none functioning currently outside of the LDS charter.
Brown said that his biggest concern in starting such a Troop is the recruitment of volunteer leadership that it would take to continue it.
“So I would just appeal to you, if there are interested individuals who would want to assist in that, please step forward and give a hand,” Brown said.
Burt closed the meeting by expressing his appreciation for the Boy Scout program and its influence.
“I am grateful for the Scouting program in my life,” he said. “I’m grateful to have watched the important characteristics from the Scout Law and Oath become innate in our youth through that program. I hope that you all will recognize that the initiative, motivation and doctrine of those characteristics has not, and will not, change in the youth program of the Church. Please keep that in perspective.”