SALT LAKE CITY — Though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, Latter-day Saint leaders announced last year the church would sever ties with the program in 2020.
Leaders of the church shared more details about a new program that will replace not only Scouting, but all programs for teens and children older than 8 years old in the church, in a letter recently sent to bishops.
The all-encompassing “Children and Youth” program will take the place of Scouting, the programs for young men and young women called Duty to God and Personal Progress, and the program for children called Faith in God. Children and Youth will go into effect Jan. 1 in English and Spanish, as well as 15 other languages. It will roll out in 34 other languages a few months later, the church said.
A website for leaders went live at ChildrenandYouthLeaders.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, but is only accessible to leaders of the church that oversee the youth programs. Pamphlets for parents and youth explain more about the goals of the program.
“The principles taught in this effort for children and youth represent a higher, holier way to encourage the rising generation to follow Jesus Christ and apply His gospel in all areas of their lives,” the leadership of the church wrote in one of the pamphlets.
The program’s vision is to “strengthen the rising generation’s faith in Jesus Christ and help children, youth and their families progress along the covenant path as they meet life’s challenges.”
Children and Youth will accomplish this vision through “gospel learning,” "service and activities” and “personal development” while following Jesus Christ in the spiritual, physical, social and intellectual areas of their life, the pamphlets read. Children and youth will largely be tasked with choosing their own goals instead of following an already-set list of requirements.
The church will release an app called Gospel Living at the end of 2019 that will work in tandem with the program and offer inspiring content, reminders, activity ideas, communication platforms, journaling and personal goals.
Children and Youth will standardize the programs for boys and girls, as well as the programs for those in North America and throughout the rest of the world — though leaders are encouraged to adapt the programs to the needs, culture and customs of their youth.
Leaders will learn more later this year about uniformity, adaptation and name changes for activities and meetings. The church said there will still be camp for both boys and girls, youth conference and trek — a historic reenactment activity.
An event called For the Strength of Youth that has previously been available for those outside the United States and Canada will now be an opportunity for youth in North America.
Church apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard will host a special broadcast introducing the new initiative on Sept. 29, and fellow church apostle Elder Gerrit W. Gong will host a “Face to Face” broadcast on the new program on Nov. 17.
Children and teens may continue with the old programs until Dec. 31. The church encourages boys who want to participate in Scouting to join a local program.