Raising generations: the church’s changing youth program

Apr 5, 2020, 2:23 PM
relief projects...
That includes an effort in Utah to sew 5 million masks. (Courtesy Church Newsroom)
(Courtesy Church Newsroom)

SALT LAKE CITY — When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ended its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America early last year, many members were curious about what youth program would take its place. Then, Elder Gerrit W. Gong announced the church created its own child and youth program members ages 7-18 all over the globe could participate in.

President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Russell M. Nelson stated it was time “for a new approach designed to help today’s children and youth throughout the world,” in a special broadcast speech in 2019.

The new child and youth programs are meant to provide unique opportunities for families to work together and set goals and to help one another achieve them.

President M. Russell Ballard, a member of the church’s Quorum of the 12 Apostles, said the purpose of the new program is “to strengthen the rising generations’ faith in Jesus Christ and help children, youth, and their families progress along the covenant path as they meet life’s challenges.”

The parent role

The new youth program gives parents greater responsibility and the opportunity to provide their own experience, members tell KSL.

KSL NewsRadio host Maria Shilaos spoke with Simon Greathead, a parent of four and a professor at BYU. Simon has two boys and two girls. He shared his perspective on adapting to the programs.

“The changes have been positive for our family. It has slowed down the number of activities and requirements our son has to do. It has made things much more simple for our family. It’s also helped out [our] pocketbook,” said Greathead.

However, Greathead did point out some obstacles. The new programs aren’t as structured as the Boy Scouts were. Parents and kids have to work together to build their own routines.

“A lot of families are trying to wrap their arms around how to begin to program and maintain the program. Playing catch-up with a program that’s been around for over 100 years,” Greathead mentioned.

The church’s previous programs also provided a way for youth to connect with their peers. With the transition to the new programs, social interaction with other kids happens less.

“The campouts, the hikes, a lot of those skills have been opened up for new opportunities,” said Greathead. “I don’t know if we are experiencing the full social effect of the LDS program.”

The impact of the new youth program

Greathead told Shilaos the new program has been a gift for his family. Specifically, Greathead referenced his oldest son Luke, who is just around the age to begin participating in Young Men activities.

“We often overlook our children, whether that be with school events, sports events, church events… this really has given us the opportunity to re-evaluate with Luke where he spends his time,” said Greathead.

Greathead said the new program allows him to help guide his kids in developing themselves how they see fit instead of within a prebuilt structure.

“With the new program Luke now has the opportunity to focus on things he personally wants to develop,” Greathead said.

Greathead mentioned the new program has allowed shifting of reasonability — instead of the young men accomplishing their Scouts program, the family can build goals together and work more cohesively. He does point out that it’s going to be a while before his family adapts to a structured plan as robust as the Scouts.

“It’s going to take time, but I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to personalize my son’s and daughter’s personal growth,” said Greathead “I see the light at the end of the tunnel–it’s brighter, but it’s just going to take some time.”

The benefits of the new program

Motivational speaker Ganel-Lyn Condie had influence over developing the youth programs. She believes instead of youth looking forward to one big event to practice spiritually, having a more localized approach would benefit youth more.

She also believes having an at-home approach provides the necessary tools for parents to have tough conversations with their kids.

“The youth of today want to talk about LGBT, addiction, mental health. They don’t want to brush over,” said Condie.

“I love these changes. I think they’re exciting and uncomfortable,” Condie continued.

Condie also said it will take some time before families and youth really get in the swing of things. But Condie leaves members with an important reminder: “all of these changes can seem a little disruptive at times, but I think we can start to see the wisdom in that everything is pointing us back to Christ.”

Related Articles:

Church members preparing for different kind of General Conference

President Nelson calls on Latter-day Saints for “solemn assembly”

Church leaders announce more changes to April 2020 general conference

Latter-day Saints mark bicentennial of First Vision of Joseph Smith

Today’s Top Stories


The new monuments at This is the place heritage park....
Mark Jackson

This is the Place Heritage Park to unveil monuments for early Black pioneers

This is the Place Heritage Park will unveil a monument dedicated to early Black pioneers on July 22, just in time for Pioneer Day.
1 day ago
praying football coach...
JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press

Supreme Court sides with coach who sought to pray after game

The court ruled 6-3 along ideological lines for the coach. The justices said the coach's prayer was protected by the First Amendment.
5 days ago
downtown slc general conference temple square...
Simone Seikaly

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reacts to Roe v. Wade

SALT LAKE CITY — Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have responded to the Supreme Court decision on Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade. Their statement began by reasserting a belief in the sanctity of human life. It also listed possible exceptions for members who may seek an abortion, which include […]
8 days ago
supreme court. it just ended remain in mexico policy...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Justices rule religious schools must get Maine tuition aid

The most immediate effect of the court's ruling beyond Maine probably will be felt next door in Vermont, which has a similar program.
11 days ago
Photo credit: Just Add Chocolate Facebook page....
Lindsay Aerts

Chocolate shop apologizes, renames Book of Mormon-themed Twinkies

A Utah County chocolate shop has renamed its Book of Mormon-theme Twinkies after it was accused of being racist. The shop has also apologized.
22 days ago
hill cumorah monument...
Mark Jones and Aimee Cobabe

UPDATE: Suspect arraigned for reckless endangerment after gunshots fired at Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center

No injuries were reported Wednesday after gunshots were heard near the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center in New York. Police say roughly 22 shots were fired.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Raising generations: the church’s changing youth program