(Photo courtesy LDS Media Library.)
(Photo courtesy LDS Media Library)

When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America for young men ages 14–18 on May 11, 2017, a new era in the Church began. For a century, young men activities and Scouting activities have been almost synonymous in the United States.

In a press release, the LDS Church said the church is working to create a new program that will focus on development for the young men.

“Instead, Young Men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals outlined by the Church,” the LDS Church said in a press release. “These activities are designed to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.”

While the programs will continue to run through the end of the year, young men and their leaders might now find their activity calendars with a few blank spaces. Here are 10 things young men can do for activities instead of scouting:

1. Work on Duty to God

One of the reasons the Church cited when it announced it was re-evaluating its relationship with BSA was the fact that many young men around the world were unable to participate in scouting. However, all young men have access to Duty to God, a program created to help young men learn their priesthood responsibilities, and are encouraged to meet its requirements. Young Men activities that center on meeting Duty to God requirements will fill the void left by scouting’s goal-driven activities.

2. Service

The Youth Activities website on LDS.org provides an extensive list of service activities perfect for youth. With extra time not spent on Scouting activities, wards can plan for their young men to provide service in the community, the ward and the home.

3. Young Men campouts

There’s no rule that says campouts have to be sponsored by BSA. Young men can still plan and execute camping activities on their own.

4. Missionary preparation

Several activities centering on missionary work — from learning to study like a missionary to serving “mini missions” — are also listed on the youth activities website. Activities that help young men prepare for missionary work are invaluable, especially with more and more young men leaving for missions straight out of high school.

5. Family history

Elder Neil L. Andersen has taught that family history is for youth. Young men activities that center on identifying ancestors and linking generations together will help the young men’s hearts “turn to their fathers” (D&C 2:2) and instill in them a greater testimony of eternal families.

6. Temple trips

After youth have identified ancestors who need temple work, the next natural step is to bring their names to the temple. As youth prepare their own names for the temple, performing baptisms and confirmations for the dead will have greater meaning and youth temple trips will be more successful.

7. Learn about career options

Often, young men leaders focus extensively on missionary preparation — and rightly so. But young men can also benefit from looking further into the future and identifying possible career goals and college majors they might want to pursue. Activities that encourage this kind of goal-setting are beneficial to youth as they embark on adulthood.

8. Talent shows

Youth activities can also help courage young men to develop their talents and creativity. Talent shows are popular for combined young men/young women activities and can help give youth something to plan and prepare for — perhaps more than a typical, simpler youth activity.

9. Gospel study

Scripture study isn’t just for Sunday School and Seminary. Youth can learn valuable scripture study skills in preparation for receiving the ordinances of the temple and giving missionary service. Activities that teach youth how to effectively study the scriptures can give them necessary skills to be spiritually self-reliant.

10. Sports

With less time dedicated to goals in the scouting program, there may be additional time young men can spend on sports. A friendly competition among the young men in your ward or stake can help teach young men principles of organization, teamwork and wholesome recreation.

2 Responses

  1. Is Scouting really over? The title might be premature. The Church’s Q&A on the matter states: “Young men who desire to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged. It is important to remember that only those young men who are properly registered are eligible to be awarded merit badges and rank advancements.” While we look forward to providing Scout programs to all interested youth, including those age 14 and older, for those on the trail to Eagle some kind of Scouting leadership will be required. In Utah County, of those who earn the Eagle Scout award, 93% complete the requirements at age 14 or older and 67% attain the Eagle rank after age 16.

  2. A few years ago when the bishop called me to be YM President he emphasized that the older YM who wanted to continue working Scouting progress should certainly do it. But there were many 14 years and up who had lost interest in the program. My emphasis was to be on preparing all YM for missions and becoming responsible citizens.

    So we had out scout committee organized to continue all who were interested in pursuing scout advancement. For Activity Nights we chose 4 focuses which served us well. 1) Spiritual Development, 2) Fun (physical and social) activities, 3) Missionary preparation and skills, 4) Providing service.

    Among those subjects we included “cooking, sewing, communications” projects for missionary prep. Joint activities with older YW (planning and cooking for YW, relay type races, broom hockey at a local ice rink, mystery dinner, etiquette, snow trips). Service included serving at a local food bank, cleaning up smashed pumpkins in the neighborhood after Halloween, building cleaning, visiting in convalescent facilities). Spiritual (and missionary) development included having the FT missionaries present lessons and YM practice presenting gospel topics, Book of Mormon Reading Marathon). There is so much to do to develop the attitudes and skills to help them be successful.

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