No Scouting doesn’t mean an end to church-sponsored camping for Mormon youths

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) BSA Camp Tracy employees James Jette, 18, and Hensley Ballamis paddle around Taylor Lake, Thursday, May 24, 2018. The two will serve as lifeguards at Camp Tracy for the 2018 summer season.

When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in May it would be quitting its centurylong partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and would develop its own youth programs, many members worried that might mean the end of church-sponsored camping.

After all, the new Latter-day Saint program for boys and girls was described as a way to help them “discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”

No mention of tents, bug spray or merit badges for swimming across a lake.

Relax, the Utah-based faith said Friday, camping will still be part of the church’s plans for its young people going forward.

“Camps and other outdoor activities will be an important part of gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ,” the church said in a news release. “Children and youth may participate in Primary day camps, Young Women camps, Young Men camps, and high-adventure activities. … Activities will be based on needs rather than requirements.”

The church’s program will take effect in 2020, the release added, and will feature “weekday activities, outdoor adventures, and youth conferences, including For the Strength of Youth conferences.”

These events will continue, the church said, to be “a vital part of helping children and youth learn, develop friendships, serve, and strengthen faith in Jesus Christ.”

The release did not mention, however, any future relationship with the established Scout camps that dot Utah’s landscapes and where thousands of Latter-day Saint boys have revelled in the outdoors every summer.

These properties — owned, or leased through the Forest Service, by the various Scout councils — will still be around for the Scouts. Utah Scout leaders have also said the camps will be available for use by Latter-day Saint programs.