By Steven Baugh
May 28, 2017

Elder Holland: “Don’t read more into this change than there is.”

That was the theme of Elder Holland’s comments at an LDS reception last Thursday at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.  Elder Holland thanked those in attendance for their continued support of Scouting and in helping shape BSA’s future.  It’s important to continue to encourage others in good pursuits like Scouting, according to Holland. 

He asked those in attendance and others to help BSA. He said to calm any anxiety about  recent announcement that the LDS church will no longer be doing Varsity and Venturing programs.

Then, he quoted Groucho Marx saying, “There is less going on here than meets the eye.”  He reiterated that this idea is true of Varsity and Venturing.

“There is less there than everybody is worried about. It just means we have never been terrifically successful across the church with those programs for this age group,” Holland said.  

He reminded listeners that LDS boys can still identify with a troop, and work on their Eagle until they are eighteen. He also said that we need to understand that boys change as they begin to notice girls and start driving;  we need to do a few things differently with this age group, especially with the lowering of the missionary age.

He asked that we to do more to prepare our youth for missionary service and the temple. “Don’t panic about those about those particular age groups or those announcements,” he urged.  He said that the Church was still at work to meet the new program’s deadlines for January 1st, which will be worldwide. 

“Be patient,” he counseled. “We don’t want anyone to be anxious or frustrated.”

Additionally, he shared the love of President Monson for Scouting, “You know of his standing with the BSA. I will let him know what good meetings we have had. He is happy and healthy, but he doesn’t have as much energy.”

Note: Another version of this report can be found on the LDS BSA Blog by Nettie Francis and Roma Bishop, in their summary of the National Annual Meeting: “Report of the BSA National Annual Meeting.” 


Author: Steven Baugh | Commissioner of Education

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19 thoughts on “Elder Holland: “Don’t read more into this change than there is.”

  1. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

    I am so glad to have read this. Elder Holland clarified much that others were reading into the LDS church’s recent statement. Too many people I meet think the Church is dropping Scouting, while he made it clear, the LDS Church needs programs that better prepare their youth for missionary service and the temple.

  2. AvatarRenee

    Elder Holland always knows what to say! Scouting and the LDS Church are not going separate ways! This is a good move for all the boys involved, and that is what is most important with these changes.

  3. AvatarTerry Richardson

    Thank you for the information. After reading this, I went back and read the First Presidency Letter along with the FAQ’s from I now understand this better. This will be great for the Scouting Partnership with the LDS Church.

  4. AvatarJamie Bodle

    I was so glad to read this article and to see the General Authorities finding ways to help these young men be better missionaries, fathers. This answered alot of questions for me as an employee with the BSA but to know what we need to do in my home ward moving forward.

  5. AvatarMadison Austin

    Elder Holland always has the right answers. We are lucky to be able to hear from him. I think it is exciting to see where the Scouting-LDS Relationship will go next.

  6. Susan CheeverSusan Cheever

    I have a husband and sons who are Eagle Scouts and it is amazing to me how often Scout skills are useful and needed in life. And it is great to have the values that I believe in and cherish reinforced by other influencers in my boys’ lives.

  7. Melany GardnerMelany Gardner

    Thanks Elder Holland! I feel like this helps clear up some misunderstandings out there. I am excited for the change and how this is a good step for everyone, especially the young men involved. It also makes me want to be a better leader in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I can double down my efforts to make their Scouting experience the best it can be.

  8. AvatarBen Summerhalder

    Elder Holland has a way making the point clear from the beginning. I appreciate him clarifying the Church’s announcement because too many people regularly try to read between the lines when there is nothing there.

  9. AvatarMaloree Anderson

    I’m so glad that Elder Holland spoke about this. He is straight and to the point. Don’t make a bigger deal than needs to be. The Church and the Scouts both are organizations that are focused on supporting the youth!

  10. AvatarTonya Smith

    Elder Holland is a wise man. I am glad he made it clear that both the LDS church and the Boy Scouts are doing what is best for the youth. Thanks for the great article.

  11. AvatarJim Bethel

    I have tried for years to implement effective Varsity and Venture programs -with little success. The most effective way was to disguise what we were doing without using any VS or ‘VE language and present the boys with their awards at a court if honor and explain the results after the fact. Explain that the leadership for the event and specific requirements were exactly what was needed to earn their VS or ‘VE awards. The were pmeased and somewhat surprised.

  12. Derrick LarsenDerrick Larsen

    I see this as a great opportunity. We can now get hyper focused on Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I think that Scouting will continue to be an integral part of the young men in the LDS church all the way up to 18. I look forward to seeing further direction on how the Church will continue to use Scouting to prepare young men for missions and for life!

  13. AvatarJim Turnbow

    While I like the values scouting teaches I feel it is an outdated program with overpriced awards and camps. I have spent over 12 years as some form of boy or cub scout leader and have found the private owned scout camps to be much more fun, cost effective and an overall better experience for the boys. I also think uniforms, badges and printed certificates are ridiculously priced. I hope someday the LDS church can separate from the BSA and start their own program similar to what they do in countries outside of the USA.

  14. AvatarRondo Fehlberg

    I am grateful to Elder Holland for putting things in a proper perspective. For those Priesthood and Scout Leaders who have attended the Council’s Little Philmont presentations led by Elder Monk of the Seventy over the past year, Elder Holland’s comments will make a lot of sense. There is good stuff in the Varsity and Venturing programs and we will still be able to use their Program Features for our planning and activities without always feeling guilty about not following some of the other parts of the programs that do not fit our focus on preparing young men for missionary service and productive living.

  15. AvatarWade Cox

    I think that this move by the church was inspired. For years LDS leaders of older youth have felt guilty about not implementing a “Rank Advancement” program. They don’t do it because it doesn’t work in the real world. The Venture and Varsity programs were never intended to revolve around rank advancement, and the programs worked wonderfully when implemented as designed. But leaders never bothered to get trained properly and just assumed that they were doing it wrong, thus creating the guilt.

    Now, without the BSA programs, hopefully leaders will learn what is expected and implement programs that include what was supposed to be happening all along, ie. Athletics, Citizenship, Career Exploration, Outdoors, High Adventure, and advancement if desired.

    1. AvatarScoutmaster of Two Troops

      I think Wade nailed it on the head with his comment “leaders never bothered to get trained properly and just assumed that they were doing it wrong, thus creating the guilt”. The Varsity and Venturing programs were written with members of the LDS church on the committee. When they realized it wasn’t working for the church, they helped to rewrite the program. It’s still not working (so essentially, they are trying their 3rd attempt now).

      I tried with 3 bishops and 2 young men presidencies to get Varsity implemented in our ward and it couldn’t be done. 1. have the youth plan a high adventure activity. 2. have them do it. 3. have them return and report how it went and what they could improve. 4. Give them a pin for doing it. That’s as hard as it was (i.e. it is not hard even the slightest).

      Look at the requirements now for what they plan to implement (like Frontiersman).
      There is no way you’d ever get someone who is unwilling to be trained properly to run something like this.

      I heard another Scoutmaster say that all this change does is remove the guilt from the people who were unwilling to do it before. Nothing will be changing as it wasn’t being run in the first place – the only thing changing is the guilt the leaders feel at not doing it. They still won’t get trained and won’t implement any of the new activities (unless it’s basketball).

      1. AvatarGeorge Weight

        At least two things need to be put into place in order for any new program to succeed: (1) Adult leaders need to be willing to step aside and let the youth lead (2) Adult leaders need to get and practice effective coaching/mentoring/advising skills so that they can train the youth in leadership skills.
        Where the older Scout programs have succeeded, it’s because the adult leaders learned how to use these two skills. Where they have failed, it’s primarily because the leaders tried to assume the leadership responsibility themselves–anywhere from thinking of youth leadership as just conducting the next meeting to the extreme of playing nursery teacher to the teachers and priests quorums.
        My experience with a priesthood leader at girls’ camps over the years convinces me that many of our adult sister Young Women leaders are much better at these two items than we men are! The exception may be the wise coach of an athletic team who knows his captains must take the leadership role and trains them to do it.


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