Communities scramble to keep local scouting alive
By Doug Lowe
Last year, the LDS church announced it would no longer sponsor Boys Scout troops and Cub Scout packs beginning Jan. 1, 2020. So, now there are less than four months remaining for those who want to keep scouting as a community-based, rather than a church-based, program.
Currently, in three Sanpete cities, scouting advocates are well on their way to establishing their first community-based scouting program. In both Fountain Green and Ephraim, their local Lions Club has agreed to become the chartered partner organization required by Scouts BSA. And in Gunnison, the city government has agreed to play the chartered partner role.
Knowing exactly when this new type of scouting will begin, or exactly what they will look like is hard to say. But, certainly most will begin by setting up a troop where boys from an LDS troop can smoothly transition if they want to continue scouting.
Some places in Utah, outside of Sanpete, are embracing Cub Scouting, as well as having girls-only cub dens as part of a co-ed cub pack. And, already, girls are joining what used to be Boy Scouts as members of a girls-only scout troop. Due to such changes, the old Boy Scouts of America organization no longer uses the word “boy,” and now calls itself simply Scouts BSA.
An example of such new forms of scouting can be seen fully functioning in Salina. Community-based scouting there already has some fifty scouts, male and female, registered and actively attending their respective weekly meetings as well as special events.
While the inclusion of girls is relatively new, according to Pat Robinson, Salina’s Chartered Organization Representative, “girls now account for a little less than twenty of registered cubs and scouts.” Robinson believes that their success in attracting both male and female scouts comes largely from using what he calls “the Family Scouting Night system.” Using that system brings together every different type of scouting group on the same one night, at the same one time, at the same one central location. “The only problem is that we are running out of space in our one central meeting place,” says Robinson, “because every group needs its own room.”
Parents like the way a Family Scout Night reduces the chauffeuring they need to do. Taking every scout in the family to only one place, at the same time and on the same night, save on gas and parental time. According to Robinson, the system also makes it easier for female family members, unfamiliar with but curious about scouting, to come along and give it a try.
Another important advantage of the Family Scouting Night system is how easy it makes the recruiting of adult volunteers. Certainly, those adults who drive a long ways, and wait around to take their scouts home, are especially prime prospects for recruitment.
In Fountain Green the organizers of community-based scouting are aiming to simply have their new troop operating by the first of January. The role of spark plug is being handled by Bob Hansen, who get credit for recruiting his LDS ward’s recently released Bishop, Curt Lund, as new troop’s first Scout Master given his background in the military and his having a son in the church scout troop.
According to Lund, “Our hope is to also serve communities outside of Fountain Green’s where locals wants and need scouting to continue. Residents in such areas, will be welcome to start a local scout patrol or cub den that is affiliated with our community troop or pack.” Those interested in knowing more may call Curt Lund at 801-404-957; or Bob Hansen at 321-446-7805.
In Ephraim, local physician, Dr. Gary Cole, and Snow College faculty member, Lynn Schiffman, have teamed up with the current Scout Master of Troop 900, Lawrence Durtchsi, to help ensure that scouting continues. With the local Lions Club having agreed to serve as the Chartered Partner, and Dr. Cole learning towards become the Scout Master, the future of scouting looks promising.
According to Dr. Cole, “We still need volunteers to come forward—especially to help set up a cub pack.” Cole envisions Ephraim eventually having a cub program with dens just for boys and dens just for girls. Possibly, even a scout troop just for girls. Interested readers are welcome to call Dr. Gary Cole at 283-8015; or Lawrence Durtchsi, at 851-7084.
In Gunnison, long-time local medical doctor and scouting advocate, Dr. Dwight Inouye, has become the point man for a group of concerned citizens who are ensuring the continuation of scouting. And, they have persuaded Gunnison’s city government to become the chartered partner of Scouts BSA.
Like those in Fountain Green and Ephraim, the leaders of Gunnison’s new scouting program have also foreseen there will be young people and parents, living outside the city, where no local pack or troop is available, wanting to set up a scout patrol or cub den in cooperation with Gunnison. For further details, readers are advised to call Dr. Inouye, at 801-502-2165.