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LDS Church Announces New Young Men 14–18 Program in Place of Varsity and Venture Scouting Programs

The First Presidency announced in a letter on Thursday that the Church will no longer charter Varsity and Venture Scouting programs and released the new Church program for young men ages 14–18. 

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"As part of the Church's ongoing effort to evaluate and improve its service to families and young people worldwide, the Church will no longer charter Varsity or Venturing units with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada effective January 1, 2018. 
"We express sincere appreciation and gratitude to all adult leaders who have supported young men in these programs and are grateful for our long-standing and continuing partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts of Canada," the First Presidency wrote.

The letter also noted that young men who desire to obtain the rank of Eagle or Queen Scout should not be discouraged from doing so and should be registered with Boy Scouts of America. Adults leaders who are assisting with merit badges or rank advancement with older boys should also be registered and meet Boy Scouts of America requirements, according to the letter. 

The new program guidelines for young men ages 14–18 were also announced in the letter, which can also be found on ymactivities.lds.org

The following are the new guidelines for young men ages 14–18:

Teacher and Priest Activity Program

Building young men with strong testimonies in the Lord Jesus Christ, helping them magnify their priesthood duties and preparing to fulfill their divine roles is the purpose of the Young Men’s 14-18 activity program. Stake, ward, and quorum leaders should use Handbook 2: chapters 8 and 13, and counsel together on how to implement this activity program. Activities should provide opportunities to be with youth, connect them with heaven, and let them lead (see ymactivities.lds.org).

Principles

Activities should:

  • Provide belonging and support by strengthening quorum unity and building relationships with peers, leaders, and families (see Handbook 2, 13.1).
  • Provide experiences that help young men fulfill their Aaronic Priesthood duties and their divine roles:
    • Accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood (see Handbook 2, 8.1.3).
    • Develop temporal and spiritual self-reliance skills, such as time management, budgeting, and simple home and mechanical maintenance (see Handbook 2, 6.1.1).
    • Engage in becoming good citizens (see Handbook 2, 21.1.29).
  • Be planned and executed by Aaronic Priesthood quorum leaders, with support from adult advisers (see Handbook 2, 13.2).
  • Provide a balance of opportunities to serve others and to develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually (see Luke 2:52; Handbook 2, 8.13.1; 13.2.6).
  • Follow all Church safety and other policies and guidelines (see Handbook 2, 13.6). Activity Guidelines
  • Develop an annual calendar to ensure a balance of purposeful spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual activities (see Handbook 2, 13.2.6). Ideas for meaningful quorum activities can be found at ymactivities.lds.org and in Handbook 2, 13.1.
  • Combined activities with young men and young women are particularly beneficial for youth ages 14 and older and could be held more frequently than once a month (see Handbook 2, 8.13.1).
  • One youth conference or multi-day high adventure activity should be held each year(see Handbook 2, 13.4). In addition, 2–3 overnight activities are also encouraged (see Handbook 2, 13.6.12).
  • Mutual activities are generally held weekly but can be held less frequently based on needs and circumstances of quorum members, but they should be held at least monthly (see Handbook 2, 8.13.1).
  • Ward Councils are encouraged to counsel together and consider the needs of all youth and families in their wards in applying these guidelines (see Handbook 2, 4.5.2; 13.2.8). Fulfilling My Duty to God
    • Provide ample opportunities for young men to learn, act, and share their experiences in Duty to God (see Fulfilling My Duty to God: For Aaronic Priesthood Holders, 95–98).
    • Consider doing the “For the Strength of Youth” development activities as a quorum (see Fulfilling My Duty to God, 98–99).
    • You may work as a quorum to fulfill the outlined projects (see Fulfilling My Duty to God, 55, 79, 84).
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