The End of a Legacy

Today is an historic day. 

December 31, 2019, marks the end of the legendary LDS-BSA relationship. For the past 106 years the Church and the Boy Scouts of America have partnered together in one of the most iconic and powerful relationships in history. 

The Latter-day Saint Scouting relationships office—which officially closes today—was initiated in 1951 by President David O. McKay.

I am grateful to be one of the good men assigned during the past seven decades to support the leadership of the Church and the leadership of the BSA in their combined quest to strengthen young men. 

During the past eight years as director of Latter-day Saint Scouting relationships, my family and I have been blessed with incredible opportunities. We have become close friends with both Church and BSA leaders. 

For the past 18 months I have been asked daily—by both friends and strangers—about my feelings as this legacy ends.

Here is my answer: I AM GRATEFUL AND THRILLED. 

I am grateful for 106 years of Scouting in the Church. I am grateful for the millions of young people and leaders who have learned skills and been blessed and strengthened through Scouting. I am grateful for the good missionaries, fathers, community leaders and priesthood brethren who have been trained and taught through Scouting programs. I am grateful for the good people I have met all over the world who believe in God, family and country; and have been led to the gospel through this partnership. Scouting is a bridge that has benefitted millions of lives.

However, I am also optimistic as we begin this new year and embark on a new era. I am excited that the Church now has a worldwide youth program. And, I am encouraged that those now registered in BSA units will be there because they CHOOSE to be there. I am excited that Latter-day Saint Scouting families will associate more with those not of our faith–good people who also believe in doing their Duty to God and in strengthening youth. 

While the end of the LDS-BSA partnership vastly affects Scouting along the Wasatch Front and in several western states, I invite my Latter-day Saint friends to have a larger vision, and realize that the Boy Scouts of America is still active and thriving all across the nation. Scouting is still a conduit for citizenship, leadership and outdoor adventure. And, I believe, Scouting is needed now more than ever in our apathetic indoor world for our struggling youth.

Scouting provided opportunities for me as a boy and taught me skills which built my confidence in ways no other organization did. My association as a youth in the Boy Scouts of America was a key factor in my development into adulthood and my success as a priesthood brother, father, and citizen. Scouting has blessed all of my family—my daughters and sons—and we are excited about the continued opportunities ahead.

I will be eternally grateful for the prophets and Church leaders who brought Scouting into the Church, and I am excited about the new frontiers ahead. 

I whole-heartedly echo the feelings and words of President George Albert Smith: “I feel grateful to the Lord that Sir Robert Baden-Powell was impressed, may I say ‘inspired,’ to give Scouting to the world.”

Happy New Year and Good Scouting to all.

Most sincerely,


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  1. Stanley Stolpe says:

    Thanks for your leadership. You made such a difference. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it all.

  2. Clayton Hudgins says:

    Mark – Thank you for the encouragement and example you have set. You’ll be happy to know there are several youth and adults in North Florida continuing to participate with BSA. Hope our paths continue to cross in BSA and Church.

  3. Jason says:

    Mark- Thank you for your time, talents and words of encouragement over the years! I know the Lord will and has blessed you for the great service that you have rendered and continue to do so.
    Many wishes for continued happiness on the trails. Hope to cross paths with you again.

  4. Sheila Foraker says:

    Thank you Mark! Well written as always. I’m a DE in Catalina Council. I got my start on the Scouting path 6 years ago when I was called to serve in the Stake Primary presidency and asked to be a Unit Commissioner. I hit the ground running and loved every minute. I have encouraged ward members to continue in Scouting. The fit is perfect for boys and girls in the new children and youth initiative. I love the opportunity to gently explain that we CAN continue with Scouting, and to our non-member friends, testify that church members can continue in Scouting. There are so many misconceptions on both side of house. I am grateful to be in a position to assuage fears, teach the truth, and to stand as an example of Scouting ideals. I have a CSP on two of my shirts that celebrates 100 years of LDS Scouting. I plan to leave thise in place, wear my adult On My Honor medal when appropriate, and testify of how Scouting can benefit and bless the youth and adults who participate. All the best to you and your family. Yours in Scouting / Yours in Brotherhood (OA Brotherhood member).

  5. Butch Istook says:

    My wife and I were called to be Bear Den Leaders early in our marriage and before we had any children in the program. We loved it and enjoyed working with the kids – including their non-member friends that came along for the experience.

    Now, over 15 years later, and after many Scouting callings and lots of non-calling Scouting, I spent the past two days calling all the Cub scout families in my stake and inviting them to the new pack to serve their kids. Then, I drove all over the stake picking up applications for those Cub scouts.

    This takes me full circle, and I am proud to say that I am continuing forward in the same way I started. But, fully by choice instead of through a calling. That calling changed my life and I feel a better person for it. I am serving as our District Commissioner and see the benefits of Scouting throughout the entire area as I visit with Scouters in and out of the Church.

    The future is bright indeed and I am grateful to be a part of it!

  6. Thank you, Mark and family, for your dedicated efforts in behalf of LDS Scouting. You have been fabulous and such a strength to the program. We will all be forever grateful for the legacy you have given us.

  7. Darwin Sorensen says:

    Well said. Thank you for capturing my feelings exactly.

  8. Eric Pond says:

    Dear Mark & Nettie,
    Thanks for your upbeat, positive example during the months of transition from Scouting sponsorship by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the new frontier of community Scouting engagement.
    Thank you for the encouragement and guidance you provided over the years to the professional staff of the Cascade Pacific Council in Portland. As the former Program Specialist assigned to Latter-day Saint Relationships in the CPC, and as an attendee of the October 2017 General Conference seminar I relished the opportunity to see up close the love you, your wife and our General Primary and General Young Men leaders have for the BSA.
    I learned that these words from Elder Holland are not mere lip service, “This isn’t a divorce. We’re not in any way disavowing any of those virtues of Scouting. It is just the charter part that we are separating from…We are friends now and we will be friends forever…when our charters are finished, we hope that many LDS youth who wish to do so will still choose to be in Scouting.” That’s real.
    Now, I’m a volunteer starting my service to 55 LDS Scouts and friends as Scoutmaster of Scouts BSA Troop 333, Columbia River District in Clark County Washington. Thank you and SCOUT ON!

  9. Steve Earl says:

    Thanks Mark for all you have done. I appreciate everything LDS-BSA has done to help us in the past. Yes, Scouting is still the best organization for building young people into great adults – for those who want it. Troops, Packs, etc. will be much better because we will have volunteers instead of those who were volunteered.
    Unit Committee Chairman – until today. Council Board Member and Advancement Chair until I can no more Eagle no more.
    God Bless you and your family

  10. Victor Moser says:

    I join scouting’s club program in 1965 when I turned eight years old my mom was a den leader and we did exciting things when I turned 11 I was in Guide patrol and love the outdoors learning to build fires cook food and camp out at 12 I was in our ward scout program totally enjoyed it going to summer camp and having experiences of a lifetime graduated when I became 14 we played basketball for about a year every Tuesday night then someone moved into the ward that the bishop called to be our explorer advisor he was a retired Marine with self-defense and survival skills We immediately set out to become active with to high adventures to the Sierras Camping on the middle Fork of the consume this river and putting on self-defense demonstrations at the local ward. Was called as an assistant scoutmaster and scoutmaster several times I’ve been involved as a young men’s presidency in the Scouting program in the ward and in the stake … Will miss a program that helped me raise my boys to be good citizens to obey the law to do their duty to God to prepare them for missions and marriage to a mate in the temple they have raised 18 grandchildren so far I have five boys and one girl but six Eagle Scouts one of the Prerequisite My daughter had for her future husband I look forward to hope helping the church develop a program that hopefully will outshine scouting

  11. Elizabeth L Finley says:

    Thank you Mark—-I will continue on to help strengthen the young men and women in the Venturing program. Thank you for our conversations and your continued support your legacy is appreciated. See you down the road.

  12. Thank you Mark and Nettie! What a blessing you have been to the world. A light that moves from one location to another still shines as bright. So let your light continue to shine! We are with you!!

  13. Mac Mcintire says:

    Thanks Mark for everything you have done to advance Scouting inside and outside the Church. It has been a joy and a wonderful blessing to work with you, Dawn, Nettie, and so many others over the years. I miss our relationship from the LDS-BSA Relationship seminars and Philmont. But the memories will be with us forever. May the Lord bless you for your years of service.

  14. Melissa says:

    Is there a patch available like the clip art above? I would love to have a few!!!

  15. Mark, it was wonderful having you and many other LDS Scouters at the 24th WSJ as our neighbors in the Faith and Beliefs area. I have worked with many LDS Scouters throughout my time as a Scout and Scouter. I have no doubt that it will continue to be the case. To all of my many friends, you know who you are, Stan, Doug, Jennifer, Charles, oh my goodness it’s so many, best wishes to all of you. God bless and happy New Year from the National Association of Muslim Americans on Scouting (NAMAS).

  16. Derrick L says:

    Beautifully said Mark. I will be eternally grateful for Scouting and the men who changed my life through this God inspired program. My children and I continue in the program. Scouting in the LDS Church now signing off……..

  17. Ed Morrow says:

    God has certainly blessed all those Latter-Day Saints who embraced this great Scouting Program; magnifying their calling and seeking to help the YM truly activate the keys & authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. My family has also been blessed in our journey in Scouting, especially as we reached out and willingly touched the lives of others. We have sat at the feet of some most wise mentors and taken advantage of their humble guidance. I believe that we will continue supporting our Church programs as we go forth. We appreciate all you and others have done to make our involvement so endearing and worthwhile. Hope to continue working with you in the future!

  18. Eagletrner says:

    It is a sad day! The program was only as good as the Leadership, Youth and Adults . If you put nothing in, you got nothing out!
    I have worked hard at giving the youth the opportunity to see the world, respect its resources, and just take a look at many future job prospects while helping them work on their spirituality.
    I personally learned how important the oath and law can make a difference in everyone’s life. It has brought me closer to the Savior as well!
    I know Scouting is embedded in my heart, values it help all to posses. I understand the same reasons on why the church has moved on! But hope the change, will help strengthen the spirit of those guiding our Youth programs!

  19. Bart Cox says:

    Is this an official patch or just a picture someone drew? I too have been greatly blessed by this relationship. I have friends all over the world because of the great scouting program. Dale, thank you for sharing this with me.

  20. John Anthony says:

    Thank Mark looking forward to our new journey let me know how I can help.

  21. joanelle ernesto azuaje sacriste says:

    Me gustaría saber mas

  22. Steve Godwin says:

    Thank you Mark, Netty and family.

  23. Lani says:

    Well said.

  24. Stephanie Roberts says:

    Is there any word about some sort of Duty to God award for LDS Scouts? A way for my 8 yr old son to earn the religious square knot?

  25. Greg Rightmier says:

    Is this 106 year emblem available as a patch. It would be a wonderful keepsake and addition to my field jacket as I continue in scouting.

  26. Edward Huntington says:

    Mark, I had the pleasure of spending time with you in conversation about these events at the Commissioner’s College in Los Angeles last March, and I was strongly impressed by your commitment, your humility, and your willingness to press forward during this time of change and transition. As a young leader with no children of my own yet, I have been profoundly grateful for the opportunities Scouting has afforded me to serve and take part in the shaping of the next generation of leaders, and I look forward to continued service as a bridge between the LDS and Scouting communities as the Unit Commissioner over a new unit being formed to serve LDS youth who wish to continue Scouting. I hope you will still be available through some other means as a resource, support, and counsel to those of us who will be treading unknown waters as we try to get a new model of Scouting afloat in our LDS communities. Thank you, THANK YOU for your years of service and guidance!

  27. Wade Lowder says:

    Thanks for your great words. I love scouting as well and that it does teach many things the Church teaches and offers so much support to becoming a great church member, Citizens, and person in general. Love this came from you who is a way was/is a Church leader and all of these wonderful comments. I wish the whole church in North America would read this.

  28. Nathan Daniel Pace says:

    Thank you Mark, what a blessing scouting has been in the lives of so many. I look forward to helping youth blossom as they focus on Christ in the new church youth program, I also look forward to helping youth involved in scouting continue to learn the valuable lessons that seem to be best taught around a campfire’s dancing lights. I wish you well as the future unfolds to us all.
    – Nathan Pace

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