Mormon Church pulling out older boys from certain Boy Scout programs

A shake-up at the Boy Scouts of America could potentially lead to a major drop in the number of participants.

The Mormon Church, which happens to be the largest sponsor of Boy Scout troops across the country, is pulling thousands of kids from the organization, in a shakeup that could effect nearly 200,000 scouts.

According to church officials, older students will no longer take part in two older Boy Scout programs.

"The Church has been and expressed their concern that youth in the Cub Scout age and Boy Scout age are very active, they get lots of leadership experiences and opportunities, and then when they hit the Varsity and Venturing opportunities, they get much less opportunities," said John Gailey, Director of Support Services with the Utah National Parks Council.

The Church is pulling out of the Varsity and Venturing programs, and starting their own programs for young men ages 14 to 18 instead. In a statement, the Church said "Young Men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual goals outlined by The Church."

"The programs are not utilized well in the LDS church," said Michael South, a Venturing and Varsity Scouts leader. "The Varsity program isn't really supported much by the BSA, only in LDS units."

The LDS Church and the Boy Scouts have been partners for more than a century, and the move is not believed to be tied to the Boy Scouts of America's decision to remove limitations on openly gay leaders.

There will still be participation in the Eagle Scout programs, and the change is expected to go into effect on January 1.

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