The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue with camping and other outdoor activities even after it officially breaks ties with the Boy Scouts of America in 2020, the Church announced Friday morning.
In May, the Church announced it would discontinue its 105-year relationship with the Boys Scouts of America on December 31, 2019. In its place, the Church announced a new “children and youth development initiative” that will begin in 2020. The program includes children as young as 8 years old and up to 18 years old.
“We have been considering for many years how we can best meet the needs of a worldwide Church,” said President M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in a press release. “Our children and youth in every part of the world are so precious to us. We have a deep desire to help them strengthen faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and feel of His love.”
On Friday, the Church released two statements detailing what that new program will include. The first statement said the Church will continue to use camping and other outdoor activities for “gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ.”
These camps could include Primary day camps, Young Women camps, Young Men camps, and high adventure activities.
“Local leaders, youth, and parents will identify and provide outdoor activities that invite spiritual experiences and meet the needs of their children and youth,” the Church said on lds.org.
The second released statement shared the nature of other possible activities the program will use.
“Activities will be based on needs rather than requirements,” the statement said. “Weekday activities, outdoor adventures, and youth conferences, including For the Strength of Youth conferences, will continue as a vital part of helping children and youth learn, develop friendships, serve, and strengthen faith in Jesus Christ.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, responded to the announcement on Facebook.
“As an Eagle Scout whose faith was strengthened by hearing the testimonies of inspired leaders around a campfire, I am thrilled that the new resources for older girls and boys, young women, and young men coming in 2020 will continue to feature camps and other outdoor activities as an important part of gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Church has published a frequently asked questions page for the new children and youth initiative on lds.org/youth.