As a member of the LDS church, I welcome the changes that have been announced to leave the Scouts BSA (formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America) by Dec 31, 2019. This change will be beneficial to our youth and will offer them an increased opportunity to get to know those involved in Scouting outside of our faith.
My earliest memories of participating in the Boy Scouts came when I was just a child. My father had been asked to be the scoutmaster of our ward. Soon after my father’s service, my mother served as cubmaster. My two brothers and I became involved as well in scouting activities with our parents.
I vividly remember selling Scout-a-Rama tickets and attending the Scout-a-Rama at the Salt Palace. My brothers and I all spent time working at scout camps (Camp Steiner, Sherwood Forest and Bear Lake Aquatics Base) for the Great Salt Lake Council. Both of my brothers received the Eagle Scout Award and both of our parents received the Silver Beaver Award. The most memorable family vacations I can recall were to Philmont Training Center (near Cimarron, N.M.) where my love of the outdoors was formed when I participated in the 50-mile treks with an all-female crew.
I met my husband while working at Scout camp. Years later, we married and soon thereafter our first son was born. We were determined to give him the best Scouting experience possible, just as my husband and I had both experienced with our families.
At the time, we had just moved back to Utah and our son was eligible to start Tiger Cubs. Since the LDS church does not offer the Tiger Cub program, I called Trapper Trails Council and was able to find a community pack at a local Catholic church. We were warmly welcomed and have been with this pack for eight years, as both of our sons have gone through the program. Our eldest son then moved into a Boy Scout troop chartered to a local Baptist church. He currently serves as senior patrol leader for more than 30 boys and is months away from earning his Eagle Scout award.
Our daughter has also had a wonderful Scouting experience through the Girl Scouts of Utah for the past seven years. This past weekend, we attended the 2018 Camporee at Camp Trefoil in Provo Canyon, which is held every three years, with approximately 800 other Girl Scouts. She learned how to be a go-getter, an innovator, a risk-taker and a leader. Girl Scouting has provided her and many other girls wonderful girl-led programming for 108 years.
Some of those in the LDS faith may be concerned that Scouting will cease for the youth entirely once the new program is implemented. As the LDS Church develops this new program independent of Scouting, many Mormons may wonder if it will be possible for their youth to continue in a Scouting program. The answer is a resounding yes!
I would encourage Mormon parents to begin now to search for community packs and troops for their boys (as well as Girl Scout troops for their girls) as the LDS Church begins the transition to this new program. Being a part of a non-LDS troop has provided invaluable experiences for our entire family. Each of our children has had the opportunity to learn about various aspects of different religions and cultures, as well as share our beliefs with them. We have experienced inclusivity and acceptance. Most of all, we are happy with the quality of scouting instruction that each of our children are receiving in their respective scouting entities.
This decision made by the LDS Church is welcomed by many members, such as myself. Parents and youth should take this wonderful opportunity to carefully vet a potential troop and/or pack to see if it would be a good fit with their Scouting beliefs and value system. There are many different options for those who wish to participate in Scouting outside of the LDS Church. By doing so, LDS youth can continue to participate in both traditional Scouting and the new program that the LDS Church will soon unveil.
Daniela Harding has been involved in both the Boy and Girl Scouting programs for many years. She is currently serving as a Girl Scout troop leader and also on her LDS ward’s Scout Executive Committee. She resides with her husband and children in Layton.