A big change is coming to the Boy Scouts of America: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will leave the boy scouts, at the end of 2019.
There have been big changes in boy scouts in recent years, with gay scouts, transgendered scouts now able to join, as well as gay scout leaders and girl in the scouts, in their own troops. The change announced by the Mormon Church is a change in a relationship between the church and the Boy Scouts that have lasted for over a century.
There are some 42,000 boy scouts in the Grand Canyon Council, which covers most of Arizona. Now, it looks like that number is going to drop.
"This is a guess, because we don't know how many Mormon boys we will retain, but I am guessing we will go down to 25,000," said Larry Abbout, CEO of the Boy Scouts of America Grand Canyon Council.
THe LDS Church is reportedly replacing scouting with its own youth programs. Church leaders declined interviews, but referred FOX 10 to a statement which reads, in part:
"The initiative is designed to allow local leaders, families and even the young people themselves to customize their efforts, while providing service opportunities and activities, fostering healthy relationships and supporting communities."
The scouts are developing new programs to increase their membership, but they say they still welcome members of the Mormon community.
"I would say our message to LDS scouts is we still want you to be involved, we'll do everything we can to have an organization to accommodate your needs," said Abbott.
The scouts say the LDS Church has been supportive, both financially and with volunteers, and has pledged to remain active until the changeover.
"We have actually had a number of volunteers say the church lets us have life outside the church, and we want to continue with scouting," said Abbott.
Meanwhile, as the Boy Scouts of America evolves, it's reaching out to groups of kids who haven't traditionally been involved in scouting, including immigrant communities.