Mormon boy scouts rush to earn Eagle Scout badges before church cuts ties with group

Posted at 11:07 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-14 23:07:58-04

The Boy Scouts of America's Aloha Council estimates more than 750 Mormon Boy Scouts across the state have the potential to reach Eagle Scout by the end of 2019.

That date is important because it's when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints plans to sever ties with the Boy Scouts.

"We are now in a small window," LDS Scout Master Kerry Moeai said.

Assessments are being done in all Mormon scout troops to help LDS youth accelerate through the different scouting ranks so they can attempt to earn their Eagle rank before the separation date.

"If I just work and get it done quickly instead of dragging it out I'll do it," scout Nathan Beard said.

"Just need to talk to some people, get it started and complete it. That's all there is to it," scout Josh Fakatava said.

Billy Rayl, the Aloha Council's director of field service, said Mormon youth who don't make it to Eagle Scout with their LDS troop can continue their pursuit with other non-LDS Boy Scout troops.

"The Eagle Scout rank is the highest award that they can achieve, so we definitely want to support our LDS youth into achieving their goals and aspirations," Rayl said.

Moeai said he's already spoken with a non-LDS troop in Laie.

"I think that's where we're going," he said.

Rayl said about half of the state's 14,000 Boy Scouts come from the Mormon church.

Many have relatives who became Eagle scouts.

"We've been taught since younger days that that's something you can put on your job application. It's also an award of service," Moeai said.

"I feel like it's destined for me," said Fakatava, a junior at Kahuku High school.

Beard is 12 years old. 

"My grandpa was an Eagle scout when he was 14. I would like to carry on that," he said.

The Mormon Church insists it isn't separating from scouting because of recent changes that will allow girls and gay scout leaders into the Boy Scouts. LDS leadership said it's acting on a long-planned initiative to begin its own faith-based youth program for boys and girls.

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