Why do people hate Boy Scouts so much?

I have been shocked with the joy and gladness people are having with the LDS Church’s diminished involvement with the Boy Scouts.

Today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would no longer be adopting Boy Scouts as the activity arm of the priesthood for teachers and priests quorums in the US and Canada. Thus, disbanding the Varsity and Venture program’s affiliation with the church. I get it and I understand it, but I don’t get why people are so happy about it.

In reality, the cultural division from scouting when youth reach the teenage years has been on the decline anyways. How many times with the quorum presidents stand up and simply say, “we will plan what we are doing for mutual in quorum.” Not to anyone’s surprise, Wednesday night comes along and it is basketball again.

The excuses are many; youth are too busy with high school, they have jobs, they aren’t interested in the program, etc. I do not see how a new program will solve these issues.

The problem partly comes from our youth. They are disconnected and many want nothing to do anything that takes effort. But there are also many who are amazing and stalwart. Coincidentally they are also the ones who come to the Court of Honor in their uniforms, they earn their Eagle, and they have strong moral character.

All that being said, I would say the leading cause of the decline in scouting for our older youth is weak youth leadership. I loved my scouting years when I was 14 and 15. Our advisor was actually my Dad, but that wasn’t what made it great. All the young men loved it. One of the members of our quorum has since gone inactive. He said if he had kids old enough, he would put them in an LDS Boy Scout troop because of the growth and experiences he had.

Once I turned 16 the quality of the program nose-dived. The disorganized mutual nights often just became basketball night. Since I don’t care for basketball, I stopped going as regularly.

The end result is, Boy Scouts is a fantastic program. The aims of scouting are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Those are wonderful things. It focuses on Duty to God and country. It pledges young men to keep themselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

“Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation.”
Lord Robert Baden-Powell

The disconnect comes when we have uninvested parents and uncommitted leaders. If we cannot change those two things, it does not matter what program the church uses.

  • People don’t hate Boy Scouts. They hate the absurd amount of money we throw it it while barely giving the Young Women’s program enough money to function.

    And while I loved Scouting, I don’t think it’s a worthy substitute for teaching Young Men how to be good Mormon men.

    I imagine this is multifaceted: 1) it seems weird to have separate domestic and international programs for YM when that’s not the case for any other auxiliary; 2) Bridging the funding disparity between YM and YW; 3) BSA moving to allow LGBT membership, which—while fine and allowing plenty of leeway for the Church—is still going to be an issue down the road; 4) the retention game: is BSA helping YM stay active and go on missions? Probably not as much as Duty to God would.

    • Very valid points. I do understand why the Church is doing this. It just makes me sad that so many are rejoicing it and hoping the church finishes the job.

      It is like when an sick old grand parent dies. You typically know it is for the best, but it still causes some sadness that it had to happen. It seems like there are many quoted in the article who are happy that grandma is dead and are using it as justification shove grandpa down the stairs just to speed things along.

    • Come on Grady. Loook at this picture and the kid 7th from the left. Yawning during the pledge. So bored. So sad.

    • This Mormon Life OK. I see your point. And yes, I do know some Scout haters. They always complained about the program, but would do nothing to help improve matters. The other thing I have seen is adult leadership so taxed by trying to run both programs that neither ran very well. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    • Geoff Openshaw Lol! I noticed that after I posted it.

      Maybe he is leading and is shouting “Color Guard Salute!”


    • Dan Hiland Thanks for stopping by!

    • I do love the striving to create a balanced budget for the young women. And I have faith in our church leaders that they are inspired to help our boys with what they need right now. I love BSA and I hope all this “rejoicing” doesn’t make people think cub scouts and Boy Scouts aren’t really important. As leaders we should still give it our all. Boys deserve leaders who are trying their best to help with the aims of scouting.

    • And maybe he’s yawning because he stayed up late the night before 😜
      C’mon Grady, the boy giving orders shouldn’t be standing there. 😂

    • I am sure that is why you have been the Wolf Leader for 6 years.

    • Hey! We have the same last name!

  • I agree with Geoff Openshaw. Furthermore, anyone who’s had to administer both the Scouting and Duty to God programs in their local church ward knows how much work it is- especially when you have young men who don’t want to be involved in Scouting. On those activity nights, they sit off somewhere with an adult leader or two, while the Scoutmaster is with the rest of the young men. It makes for an inequitable and awkward situation. I served as YM president and a Bishopric councilor for years, and used to get weary of having to work with Duty to God and Scouting- two programs that overlapped, causing an increased workload for adults and youth leaders. You’re trying to get the boys to qualify for achievement levels in both programs. Then there’s training, charter and budget issues, Friends of Scouting, etc., etc. I love the Scouting program, but I also recognize that when Church leadership makes changes like this, they are for the good of the young men. The leadership can see further off than we can, and are guided by the Lord. And the young men will be better served by Church leadership than dealing with local scout councils where leadership, accountability and proper record keeping is on the wane, in many areas of the country.

    • I serve with the Deacons and have a son who just turned 12. I feel the overlap pain. It would be nice if they synced up better. I am trying to find a way to create a track system to help the young men and parents know what to focus on and when.

    • I talk about the topic of the boys who don’t like scouting in the article. When I turned 16 we mostly played basketball. I don’t like basketball, so I hated going. Last we practiced sacrament routes this week for mutual. We had a young man try to hide because he didn’t want to do that. I don’t think there is anything we can do that everyone will like.

      The challenge is how do we help the young men love and be excited about anything we do.


  • I don’t hate the Boy Scouts. But I do feel that the church has made an incredible decision to provide a different program for the teenage boys. It’s not that Boy Scouts is bad, it’s just that we need to provide something different, something better, to really get our boys prepared and ready for missions.

    • I do like that aspect. Our Teacher do a lot of mission prep activities. Baking, ironing, and such.

    • Yes!! My thoughts exactly Andrea!

  • I love Scouting, so this is bittersweet for me. I knew it was coming and had to happen at some point. Perhaps this frees up local units to do a better job of meeting needs? I’ve always loved the flexibility I’ve had as a YW leader to help the girls plan getting of activities they feel they want and need.

    • There is a sense of pressure to help the boys earn these advancements, but there is also a sense of direction from it at well.

    • Heather, you took the words out of my mouth. The YM deserve better- and the Lord is seeing to it that they have that chance.

    • That is a good way to think of it Dan. It is like the concept of towards and away buyers.

      Some customers buy because they are trying to get away from something. Like their Galaxy phone won’t charge anymore and they need a new phone.

      Others buy because they are going towards something better, like they want the iPhone 7 Plus because it has a fancy camera for better pictures.

      I am a towards buyer here. I love scouting, but I trust that the Lord is guiding the brethren to create something better.

    • It is bittersweet. And I’m excited to see what amazing things our HS aged youth will do, and how it will impact them.

  • I think it’s great. I felt like duty to God got lost in the shuffle when it should have been the focus.

  • Summer Alvarez

    When I think of scouting I will always think of that one camp out the Dad had to “gently persuade” you into attending. That was a morning to remember. lol

    • Oh how Dad loves to tell that story. Maybe the next time I have him on the Podcast I’ll let him tell it. I am pretty sure the statute of limitations on child abuse has passed.

      It was actually one of my favorite trips. I went back with his Teachers Quorum when I was a Priest because I liked it so much. (and because we didn’t ever camp as Priests Quorum)

  • Chris is a scoutmaster for our ward and have been for a long time. We talked about this change. He said it will be so good for 14-18 years old boys. If you think about it, that age group is a hard age to live through especially with the challenges they face in this world compared to the boys back in 1900s and early 2000s. This change will be good and bad for some people.

  • Thank you so much for this. We feel the same way in our home. I have a 13 and 15 year old boys. The saddest part for them is no more Mt Man. We have been blessed with great leaders that still at age 15 have pushed the scout program.

    • I am curious how local wards will respond to scouts who want to continue in the program. There is all sorts of stuff my son wants to do that can’t be jammed into 3 years.

      He really wants that Nova award.

  • Neisha Sykes

    I respectfully disagree about Scouting. I am extremely happy the Church is going away from requiring this program and hope for the day Scouting is entirely separate from the Church. It is not for everyone and many boys who are not motivated by awards, competition, show and paperwork fall through the cracks. I’ve seen Scout leaders and so-called good Boy Scouts mock, tease, and abuse my brothers out of the Church. I’ve seen my autistic son excluded from Cub Scouts because the leaders can’t or won’t learn to work with his differences. I’ve seen some boys favored over others because they fit the Boy Scout mold, many Scout leaders showing the attitude that, “Well, if he doesn’t want to do Scouting, he is not welcome at Mutual because that’s what we do here.” (Exact quote.) The bureaucracy and hoops you have to jump through for awards in Scouting are getting more and more burdensome and confusing, especially to parents who are not heavily involved in the program. But, most importantly, the economic disparity between what the Church spends (from the top down) on Scouting compared to what is spent on the YW/girls in the church is astonishing. For decades, this inequality has sent the message that Heavenly Father must not value his daughters as much as his sons. Here are just a couple recent examples I’ve experienced: I’ve been in wards where the Activity Days program for 8-11-year-old girls is allocated $5 per weekly activity, not per girl, but for the entire activity. In the same ward, the budget for Cub Scout awards (not including activities, camps, supplies, banquets, etc.) was well over $300 per month. In the same ward, the Scouts went on an expensive high-adventure trip with rafting, horseback riding, golf, and more which cost thousands of dollars while the YW were given less than 1/5 of that budget for their entire camp. Scouting, uniforms, awards, camps, equipment, and events are expensive. No way around it. Scouting is a good program, but it is not for everyone, and because of this, many young men suffer in developing their testimonies because if you don’t participate in Scouting, “you are not a good Mormon.” It bothers me that the Scouting program touts that a young man has to be an Eagle scout to be a good missionary, father, employee, Church leader and adult. Unfortunately, I’ve known more abusers and deadbeat dads who were Eagle Scouts than the many, many good, hardworking honorable men I know who did not get their Eagle or even participate in Scouting. Allowing YM leaders to move towards a program that is adaptable, non-exclusionary and focused on spiritual growth will be a blessing to ALL young men in the Church, not just those who like Scouting. And, since the Scouting program will be available in the community, those who love it can make the effort to continue on. To me, the change is win-win for everyone.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I personally feel that many of the things you bring up won’t be solved by having a new program.

      Exclusion- Leaders who are jerks or are apathetic to their calling will still be jerks and apathetic. If they aren’t harassing a youth for not wanting to be a scout it will be for not wanting to mend a shirt, weed a widows yard, or read their scriptures. Same for youth with special needs. A leader unwilling to make accommodations for a scout will probably be just as unwilling for any other activity. I have seen wonderful leaders be a blessing to my son in his Primary classes. The other types of leaders should immediately be released.

      Budgeting- Most of the budget goes to BSA (which I can see why someone might take issue with that). I don’t have anything left to pay for activities with my Deacons. They pay for scout camp out of their pockets or fundraising. I would imagine a separation from BSA would mean the funds given to BSA would not be equally dispersed between the YM & YW, but instead just be removed from the overall budget.

      Value in Heavenly Father’s Eyes- Every ward I have been in has had a sizable Relief Society budget that accounted for monthly sisters nights and get together. I have never been in a ward (save one) where Elders Quorum had a budget. I have never felt Heavenly Father loved me any less. Comparison is the thief of joy.

      Jerks Earn Their Eagle Too- Earning an Eagle Rank is the culmination of experiences that have shaped your character. Some had their Eagles obtained for them, or they are just crappy people and the lessons didn’t take. I would say that a majority are good people. I think I’m pretty nice. Any accomplishment will have bad examples who tarnish the reputation of an organization. I know returned missionaries who are into drugs and alcohol, men married in the temple who cheated on their spouse, and women who earned their young women’s medallion who engaged in immorality. I would say that a majority who do those things are good people doing their best.

      I think Scouting provides more good for our youth than the problems it might bring and I think most of those problems won’t be solved by switching programs. They are inherent issues in our culture that need to be removed.

      • Neisha Sykes

        I appreciate your point of view. In your post, you asked why people dislike Scouting and I shared some of the reasons why some of us have concerns about it. I am glad you haven’t had the negative experiences with Scouting that others have had. I think being aware of some of the problems with the program can be a catalyst for making things better for all, in and out of Scouting. The Church can take this opportunity to build programs for our Young Men that focus on Christlike service, loving others, kindness and supporting them as they develop their testimonies and relationship with Heavenly Father.

  • I don’t hate scouts, but I am a little excited about this. Here’s why…I loved the Young Women’s program and all that went into receiving my personal progress recognition. I know that personal progress is completely inspired by our leaders and I know that the young men will soon have a program as equally organized and inspired as personal progress. Also, I think the scouting program is lacking in a lot of areas (geographically). Our ward just recently has started organizing activities, meeting and court of honors regularly. Scouting is intense and very involved and at times that can cause the ball to be dropped by leadership. Maybe with the program that will replace it, it will be more streamline? Simpler training etc? Just some of my thoughts. I love the assurance that our leaders are inspired and there is an enlightened reason for this, even if we don’t understand it all right now.

    • That is what I am hoping for too. I love scouting, but I trust the leaders when they make changes like this.

  • Rob Emily Boyle

    Hi I am loved scouting as a young man and I have loved being a scout leader. Now I am the father of all daughters and I want to be more involved in their (my daughter’s) activities . My wife and I are actually the activity days later for the girls in our ward now and we also work together as the high-adventure coordinators for the young women’s program. I wonder if this is something that will become more common going forward?

  • When the Boy Scouts deviated from the original purpose it lost my support, but never my love.

  • Deborah O’Neal Fisher

    I’m not thrilled to see this change, but I am hopeful. I hope for better for the YM. The announcement stated a focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual areas. Hooray! The YM need a stronger focus on gospel principles. The YM of my youth needed it and it’s even more important today. The Church has created wonderful YW programs over the years. The YM deserve the same.

  • I think we all knew this was coming. Duty to God so closely resembles the scouting program but emphasizes spirituality. This is a good thing for our young men, however, having been involved in scouting with my sons for many years, I am concerned with one aspect of not having scouts supported by the LDS Church. Throughout the years I have seen many non-member boys join our troops. As such, these non-member boys were exposed to higher moral values than other troops in the area. With the church separating itself from the BSA, this venue will no longer be available. Obviously a non-member could become involved in Duty to God, but that is less likely.

  • I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. When I was a cub scout leader I went to endless meetings and certifications. Then round table, friends of scouting,ect. The leaders are getting so burned out.
    What is stopping anyone from joining a troop in the neighborhood or starting one themselves? If it’s so important people need to put some effort into it. I feel like in the church everyone expects the leaders to take care of everything.

    • I’m not a fan of the things like Roundtable. I love the program at the local level, but I am not a fan of much of the overseeing organization. So, I stopped doing to them!

      I do the things that help me bless the lives of my young men and be there for my family.