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News of LDS church dropping scouting programs for older boys devastates some

News of LDS church dropping BSA programs for older boys is painful for some (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) The LDS church made a major announcement Thursday regarding it's involvement in the scouting program. Come January 1st 2018 it will drop it's varsity and venturing program which is for boys 14 to 18 years old. For some, the news was painful.

According to a statement, released on it's web site MormonNewsroom.org, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said: "young men ages 14-18 are not being served well by the Varsity and Venturing programs, which have historically been difficult to implement within the Church. The change will allow youth and leaders to implement a simplified program that meets local needs."

That news was devastating for Jana Ockey who has three boys who all got their Eagle Scout awards when they were 13 years old. Two of them, Justin, 16, and John, 14 are now in the Varsity and Venturing program.

"I felt like there was a death. It was that strong for me," Ockey said. "I've been in the scouting program for so long and when I saw what the venturing program could do for the boys I thought it was amazing. The frustration was, not everybody could see that."

Her boys are also saddened by the news.

"I find it unfortunate that the church has discontinued it, but I'm sure they have some reason behind it," Justin said.

The announcement came with little warning to local scout executives but not as a big surprise.

"I don't think [the programs] were working that effectively in the LDS church," said Bruce Hough with the Great Salt Lake Council which oversees about 75,000 boy scouts. Hough said the change will effect about 20,000 boys who are varsity and venture scouts in the LDS church.

"The church made their decision based on what was actually happening in those units and it wasn't happening and I acknowledged that it was not an effective program," Hough said. But he said he's not worried about it's impact. "It's not about registering youth, it's about providing a good program."

Charles Dahlquist, the national commissioner of the BSA said nationally it's a loss of about 133,000 scouts.

"Even though there are some financial implications, that's not the big issue. We are in the business of building strong youth across the country and across the world," Dahlquist said.

"I look at this as a wonderful opportunity for the LDS church to strengthen their program for the young men."

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