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Scouts hopeful despite partnership ending with LDS Church

Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 08:31:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Times are changing for the Boy Scouts of America and January 1, 2020, may be the organization's biggest test yet.

In May 2018, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced they would be ending a century-long partnership with BSA.

"Any company that loses 20 percent of their business overnight, it's a big change," said Charles Dahlquist, a former National Commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America and Chair of BSA's Transition Task Force. "We'll go from about 200,000 in the state of Utah to probably 7,000 overnight at the end of this year."

The LDS Church will be introducing its own 'Whole children and youth program' in 2020.

"The youth program has not been consistent across the world, this is a wonderful move," said Dahlquist. "This is a huge change for the church, by the way, to have a consistent program for the youth all over the world."

As for the Boy Scouts of America, they responded to Fox 13's request for comment on the change with a statement:

"We are expecting a drop in membership among youth registered in units chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a result of the Church separating from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as a chartered partner in 2020. For LDS families who want to continue their participation in Scouting beyond 2019, we are ensuring a smooth transition from LDS-sponsored units to community-sponsored units.

We can also confirm that there are some units currently chartered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that, once the separation takes place, have decided to remain with the BSA. These units will be chartered by another organization in their communities.

As for the broader future of Scouting, there has never been a better time to be involved. The BSA has taken steps to enable more youth than ever before to benefit from the mission and values of Scouting. We are invigorated by the strong response we’ve seen locally and nationally including the 150,000 girls who have already joined Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA across the country."

Dahlquist believes the BSA programs in Utah will continue to grow and prosper with the number of camps and land they currently have access to.

"Scouting will continue to benefit the community it'll do it just in a different way," said Dahlquist, citing the ability to reach new sponsorships in 2020.

"For every organization, you have times of trial and challenge but that strengthens us all but I think the future for scouting is bright."

The Great Salt Lake Council recently moved its long-time service center from 525 Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City to a location next to its existing scout shop in Sandy.

“This move will allow us to upgrade infrastructure and technology for the professional staff leading to reduced headcount and financial sustainability," said Tim Fenton, Great Salt Lake Council President. "Ultimately, the move will benefit all scouts and leaders in the Great Salt Lake Council.”

Fox 13 learned the Foothill Drive property and building are owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. According to Salt Lake County assessor data, the property and business are valued over $2,000,000. Dahlquist told Fox 13 that the building used to be owned by the Boy Scouts for a long time.

In response to Fox 13's inquiry regarding reasoning for the move, Boy Scouts of America responded with a statement:

"The Great Salt Lake Council is an independent not-for-profit organization that is incorporated locally. It owns and controls the camps, council service centers, bank funds and investments in the area. The decision came prior to the announcement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is based on location, cost of operation and the needs of the local Scouting community."