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Varsity, Venturer programs preparing LDS young men

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A few weeks ago, a half-dozen young men from the Fox Pointe Ward, West Jordan Utah Bingham Creek Stake, gathered for a special court of honor. Before receiving their Scouting organization's highest award, each of the boys was recognized for providing service to others, learning new skills, working together and demonstrating leadership.But not one of the 16-year-olds was presented Scouting's Eagle Badge that evening. No need. Each of the young men had already earned their Eagles. Instead, the six priests were presented Denali awards, the highest achievement in Varsity Scouting.The Fox Pointe priests form an unusual group. Never before had six members of one Varsity unit in Utah's Great Salt Lake Council completed the Denali Award at the same time. For many Mormon young men, claiming their Eagle awards marks the end of their Scouting experience. But others take full advantage of the opportunities offered by Scouting's Varsity program — typically designed for teacher-age boys — and the Venturing program, designed for young men 16 to 18 years old.Fox Pointe Ward Bishop David R. Homer is not surprised that so many of his young men have embraced Varsity Scouting. A well-run Varsity program offers a variety of high-adventure and leadership activities. The sorts of things, he said, "boys just buy in to."For years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Young Men general presidency has counseled wards and branches in the United States to offer and promote Varsity and Venturing Scouting. Such Scout-based offerings form the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood for all ages. But operating a successful Varsity team or Venturing crew can be tough. Often a young man steps away from Scouting once he's earned his Eagle. Other wards simply know little about how the advanced programs work.Still, Varsity and Venturing Scouting can play key roles in "retaining, reclaiming and converting" young men to accomplish the purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood.Read the full story at ldschurchnews.com

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