I am an Eagle Scout, so is My Father. Less than 1% of boys who enter scouting ever reach this rank. Yet I happen to associate with a bunch of different men who did. Life works out that way. I was contacted a while ago by the BSA to join the NESA, National Eagles Scout Associate. Nice idea, but it turned out to be a Who’s Who In American High School style thing. Basically you pay to get a copy of the book and to be listed. I declined anything more than basic information. But in the process of doing so I got signed up to the scouting mailing list, and I recently received a survey of Scouting today.

Here is my problem, that I outlined in the survey. I would not be the man I am today without the massive positive influence scouting had in my life. From teaching life skills to maturing young men all over Scouting has helped a great many people. The funny thing about lessons and teaching is that scouting drilled ritual and honor into my head, but it wasn’t until years later that some of those seeds took root and grew. I look at my father who is the reason I became a scout. I can think of no better man to emulate. He is both kind and intelligent, he is what a scout should look up to be. I feel that as a father and a husband I have an excellent role model to follow after. He was my first impression of scouting, to me he is all of what was good about scouting. I later on went on to meet many men just like him in character, only to realize that scouting helped mold these men into what they are too.

Therein lies the rub. Scouting today is flawed. The survey asked what are my thoughts of scouting today and the first two things that came into my head and both are negative. From their deplorable handling of the sexual abuse scandals to the downright bigoted practices of the organization, things are not good.

I am sad and disappointed that in today’s enlightened times Scouting, a force for so much good in my life has chosen to exclude homosexuals and atheists from their organization. By espousing bigotry scouting has tarnished its own honor bound image. I would love to see them change their ways.

A Scout is… Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

One can be reverent without belief in a higher power. In fact the law dictates that reverent also means respecting other’s beliefs. One can be all these things while still being gay. I can think of no greater good outside of the family influence in a young mans life than scouting can be. With so many children having problems coming to terms with who they are why shut out a good influence? If good people are willing to donate time and skills, how can you turn them away?

But more than anything else, One cannot be trustworthy if they continue to cover up heinous acts committed by criminals. Come clean, take your lumps and course correct. Properly check leader’s credentials, background check and respond to complaints. You cheapen all of us who claim you as an influence by protecting abusers.

From your own site… “A Scout is Brave.
A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him. ”

I feel that you are wrong Scouting, I think that you should accept and nurture all young men regardless of their belief structure, accept good qualified leaders regardless of their orientation or belief. Not because someone sues you, but because it is right.

I will be signing my son up to be involved with scouting, not because I agree with how you have handled all of your problems. But because I know what good you can do. I hope to be a leader and teach young boys to be men, show them the wonder of camping under the stars and the thrill of self reliance. These are the things that happen at the troop level. The larger PR issues and corporate structure problems YOU need to fix. Do it before others who don’t have good experiences choose to send their kids elsewhere, or even worse, nowhere at all.

3 responses to “Scouting”

  1. As an Eagle Scout myself, I agree with your evaluation of how good this organization is for young men. I got my boy into a cub pack earlier this year and have been having a great time. However, I have to disagree with your assessment of their stance on homosexuality and atheism.

    First, the values Scouting teaches are based on the Bible and Christianity, which expressly teaches homosexuality to be an abomination. allowing homosexuals into the organization would be incredibly confusing for children you are trying to train in values. Putting someone in front of children, in a position of authority, who refuses to accept the way God made him, is not a good influence. In addition, while homosexuals and pedophiles are two different things, I do not see how you can exclude one without the other. All a pedophile has to do is say he is gay and he is in. Without a criminal record, it would be impossible to exclude him without discriminating.

    As for atheism, I do not see how someone can be reverent about something they do not believe in. Boy Scouts requires a belief in a Supreme Being. Acknowledging one’s creator is a mark of basic intelligence. Part of the values training of the program is to teach a boy regular adherence and participation in his faith. An atheist cannot do that, because he cannot model it himself.

    I propose this for you to think about: you have said you are disappointed in Scouting because it has not changed with the times. I am quite proud of scouting because it has refused to bend it’s morals to the rapidly changing and continually degrading morals of this culture that embraces death, unchecked self-gratification without consequences (which is a fairytale) and increasingly abandons it’s children to the state. Instead, Scouting embraces time honored morals and traditions that it has held from the beginning, and has been brave enough not to change them.

    • While I respect what you believe. I do have to respectfully disagree with you on both points. Scouting is a private organization and has every right to choose entrance requirements, however I think they are missing out on good people by excluding those I mentioned.

      First point, I don’t ever remember seeing a single scoutmaster’s wife / girlfriend or anything else in all of my years in scouting. Nor did any of my scoutmasters ever mention their family life in all honesty. While I understand that people of some faiths have issue with homosexuality and I don’t want to get into that here. I think if a person is willing to donate their time to the betterment of youth then they are a good person. Secondly pedophiles are predominantly heterosexual. Scouting’s failing on this matter has been the lack of a profound response when allegation of misconduct have been made in the past. If an allegation was made Scouting should have thrown itself at the case trying to make sure that the boys were protected, not the abusers.

      Concerning atheism, reverence and respect of another’s belief is something that transcends your choice of faith or lack of faith. Any implication otherwise, or assertion that a person is less intelligent for believing differently doesn’t help the situation. Much like name calling never solved a disagreement. I respect that scouting has a lot to offer I don’t want to them to be forced to change. But I would rather they did so of their own accord, because I think that people who are willing to donate time and resources towards bettering young men are hard to come by.

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