Arizona Boy Scouts losing numbers in advance of split with LDS Church

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Boy Scout Troop 747 from West Jordan salutes as the funeral procession of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson moves along South Temple in Salt Lake City in 2018. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced last year that it will end its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America in 2019.

Flagstaff, Ariz. • Northern Arizona is experiencing a decline in Boy Scouts of America troops before an anticipated split between the organization and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, officials said.

The region is expected to lose more than 1,800 Scouts who are church members unless they transfer to community troops, although fewer than 10% are expected to transfer, The Arizona Daily Sun reported June 9.

About 70% of Boy Scout troops in Arizona are chartered by the Utah-based faith, while in the northern Arizona district the percentage is higher, with 105 church troops and 22 community-chartered troops registered, officials said.

The church announced it would sever ties with the Boy Scouts by the end of 2019 and place up to 425,000 boys into a gospel-focused youth program the church is developing and testing.

The church's decision came after the Boy Scouts decided in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders and announced in 2017 it would allow girls in its ranks.

The church opposes gay marriage and teaches that being in a homosexual relationship is a sin. The religion has also traditionally used separate youth programs for boys and girls.

Many northern troops have already pulled back from Scouting, Grand Canyon Council executive Andy Price said.

Camp Raymond, 30 miles west of Flagstaff, will not host its six-week Scout summer camp for the first time in 55 years. The camp was down by more than 3,400 participants from last year, he said.

“With the loss of those LDS troops," Price said, “I think it would be difficult to operate that summer camp again, but no decisions have been made yet."