My own scouting experiences were less than ideal and I had assumed that it must be reasonably irrelevant these days, but it is still very popular with Mormons and is seen as training for missionaries.
“Scouting fits in nicely with our spiritual goals,” said David L. Beck, president of the church’s Young Men organization, in an interview at the Salt Lake City headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We want our young men to be upstanding citizens and good husbands and fathers.”
The all-in support of the Mormons has, in turn, been a boon for the scouts as they have struggled against a 20 percent decline in membership over the last dozen years and, most recently, faced criticism for failing in the past to prevent the sexual abuse of children.
In 2011, Mormon-sponsored packs and troops accounted for more than one-third of the country’s scout units, and the 421,000 boys they enrolled, from ages 8 to 18, made up 15 percent of the country’s 2.7 million registered scouts. (Because every ward has its own unit, many Mormon-sponsored troops are smaller than average.) They have provided comparable shares of the $51 million in dues the Boy Scouts of America collects each year, although the Boy Scouts, with revenues of $269 million in 2010, also receive large corporate donations and make tens of millions of dollars selling scout supplies.