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.