Next Sunday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will announce a new youth program replacing Boy Scouts effective Jan. 1. It’s a bitter blow to Scouters.
The second hour during worship services will feature a video of President Russell M. Nelson and other church leaders explaining how helpful Scouting was but that it’s time for something new.
“It will take some effort on your part,” Nelson warns.
The new program will be called the “Children Youth Association,” or CYA. I guess the hope is that … wait, I meant “Children and Youth.” Sorry. These new acronyms and references are so confusing.
I like to think ahead. A couple of minutes is about all I’m normally good for, but when the word “effort” is used by a leader, my survival instincts kick in.
The new program might have something to do with the most recent changes in church terminology. I made a few calls to moles I have at church headquarters.
Sources deep inside HQ have confided to me that one of the first major activities for Children and Youth will be to help the church with its rebranding.
The activity will be outdoors like Scout camp but, unlike Scout camp, it will be designed to undo all the damage previously caused by Scouts — planting trees, reseeding charred areas, picking up trash and such.
Where it gets tricky is the removal of all graffiti from trees, benches, cabins and Forest Service signs that reference “Mormon” or “LDS.”
For example, there’s a tree near Puffer Lake with “Vegas LDS Scouts ’66” carved into it. I know because I helped put it there.
A few feet away is another tree bearing “mormun kamp sucks.” The Leavitt twins carved it after Ray (our Scoutmaster) chained them to the bumper of his truck for an hour when he caught them deliberately peeing in full view of a neighboring camp.
I missed the crime and punishment but witnessed the carving. When I offered to help with the spelling, the twins sulkily countered with an offer to hide a live porcupine in my bottom.
Both trees were still there in 1987. As far as I know, they still are. So there might be some merit to the tip I got about erasing no-longer appropriate church references from the land.
As the news release says, Children and Youth is intended to help Latter-day Saint kids grow “spiritually, physically, socially and intellectually.”
On the premise that some of these areas of growth will involve the outdoors, mixed-gender activities, and periodic stretches of classroom boredom, let’s examine them:
• Spiritually — This sounds suspiciously like Scouting. Say what you will about church, but past experience has taught me that few things make a person more spiritual than strange noises after dark in the deep woods. So, there’s that. (So does jumping out of airplanes, but I doubt the church will go for that.)
• Physically — Perhaps the new program will lend resurgence to team sports. In the past, it was always basketball. But kids these days are into soccer and lacrosse. But given that team competition would occasionally summon the police, maybe we should go with individual sports.
Given the emphasis on missionary work, I’d say running, pole vaulting and hurdles would be great. Every young Latter-day Saint needs to know how to get away from dogs, mobs and irate companions.
• Socially — This one will be tough. Most teens are social already. The trick will be to make them socially acceptable to people of different cultures. For example, the “OK” gesture made with thumb and index finger does not mean the same in Brazil as it does in Bountiful or Bluffdale. Google it.
• Intellectually — I have no idea. Perhaps if this area had been stressed more when I was a kid, I wouldn’t be doing this for a living.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.