LEHI, Utah (ABC4 News) – On May 8th The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would conclude its over 100-year relationship with the Boy Scouts of America program.
Church leaders say they are moving in a different direction and have developed new activity programs for children and youth within the Church that will take effect in January 2020. The Church isn’t discouraging members from participating, just removing themselves.
Throughout the years the Church has encouraged young men to participate in the program and achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
With the Church’s withdrawal from scouting, there are several questions for Utah scouts on what their future in scouting looks like without substantial subsidies from the Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Scouting Handbook states volunteer scout leaders within the Church should follow the budget allowance guidelines specific to individual troops organized within the community.
“Scouting units may participate in Scouting shows, camporees, and other BSA activities that involve the sale of tickets by boys or young men, as long as all other budget allowance guidelines are met,” the handbook states. Any funds needed outside of the allowed budget are raised through community efforts hosted by the scout troop.
Gulledge brothers, Samuel, 13 and Dallin, 11 are taking ownership of their scouting program to prove to Utah that the Church’s scouting disconnect has nothing to do with the success of future scouts.
Their troop, made up of nearly 50 community members, is selling Trails-End Popcorn to make up for lost funds. Samuel says the Girl Scouts sell cookies and boy scouts sell popcorn.
“It’s a lot of fun, and when we discontinue a program like this then there isn’t much to do. Just school and sports so it [scouting] really fills in the spots,” Samuel says.
The brothers made a video they shared on social media to gain the attention of community members in hopes to sell more popcorn. Along with the video, members of their group go door to door in their individual neighborhoods and set up stands at Lowe’s, Smith’s and Walmart on Saturday afternoons.
See their video below:
Samuel says he wants to continue scouting because he feels it will make him a better person. “It builds a lot of character and you learn skills that normally most people don’t, it also teaches you to be polite.”
The brothers say they are $800 away from their $2,500 goal. And will continue selling throughout the month.
Kevin and Debbie Gulledge, parents to Samuel and Dallin, have been involved at the district and community level of scouting for years. They say the Church’s disconnect from scouting will be an adjustment for many scouters but encourage leaders and parents who are passionate about scouting to keep it going.
“Ask around; you know there are still people in your neighborhood that still want to do scouts so don’t be afraid to ask ‘does your boy still want to continue?’ or ‘does your girl want to be in one of the new troops or packs?’ Kevin says.
Debbie says the message she would send to others wanting to continue scouting is to always recognize that “good things are good things.”
“If we want our communities to be strong then we need to support those good programs,” Debbie says.
The Gulledge’s say their first step in removing their community’s scouting connection from the Church was to find a building to meet in that wasn’t a local church building. She says this allows any youth, religious-affiliated or not to feel welcome.
“Once you have a building that isn’t necessarily a church building, that really opens the doors for individuals who are church members and familiar and those who aren’t or, maybe don’t feel comfortable, or welcome or whatever the prejudices or stigmas may be there. So it really just kinda allows any youth that has a desire to be apart of this program to come in the doors,” Debbie adds.
The Gulledge’s say they chose to continue scouting-benefits the scouting program provides.
“If you put a boy on a mountain and you have them have the courage and go through the whole process of being able to repel off the edge of a cliff, then you will have prepared that young man to do things like sit in front of an interview for his first job, or prepare for missionary service and talk to a total stranger about his personal convictions. And so that’s what I’m passionate about. Teaching these boys about how to become functioning, contributing citizens…by having experiences that basically train the brain,” Debbie says.
If you would like to buy popcorn from Samuel and Dallin check out their website here.
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