The 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America

by A Manly Guest Contributor on February 8, 2010 · 101 comments

in Blog

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Harry R. Burger. Mr. Burger joined the Cubs Scouts at six years old and has now been involved with Scouting for 20 years. He earned his Eagle in 2001.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. For the past century, the Boy Scouts of America has been a premier organization for teaching boys to be good men. In addition to camping and outdoors skills, boys are taught leadership, character, citizenship, and service to others. They also have fun while they are doing it – after all, middle and high school kids have plenty of other things they could be doing with their time. In honor of their centennial, the BSA has launched a major effort to raise awareness of their history and prepare for the future, including re-connecting with Scout alumni.

The Boy Scouts lay out a set of values that the boys are expected to uphold. In previous generations, boys would be taught how to be a man by their fathers, but these days more and more are growing up without positive male role models in their families. The Scouts provide one the few remaining bastions for the kind of male mentoring that is essential for a boy’s journey to manhood. Even for those boys who come from solid families already, the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan provide a backbone of ethics that complements and enhances the guidance he gets at home and in his faith community.

Merit Badges are available for just about any profession, sport, or hobby, and many a Scout has learned new skills and talents through a Merit Badge that become a career or lifelong passion. For example, Pioneering had me building bridges and towers out of ropes and poles, and today I’m a mechanical engineer.

Eagle Scout is the highest award presented by the BSA, a worthy accomplishment only 5% of Scouts attain. The award represents many years of dedication and service as well as commitment to the values of Scouting. The capstone of earning this rank is the Eagle Project, which requires that the Scout “…plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community.” People can say that someone “was” a First Class Scout in their youth, but once a man earns Eagle, he always IS an Eagle Scout – “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”

Origins of Scouting

“Be Prepared… the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”

-Lord Robert Baden-Powell

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, a British war hero, originally started the Boy Scouts in Great Britain in 1907. The Scouting movement came “across the pond” because one of Powell’s boys helped guide a stranger who got lost in London’s fog. When the gentleman reached into his pocket to tip the boy, he refused payment and explained that it was his Good Turn as a Scout. William D. Boyce was so impressed with this young man that he sought out Baden-Powell and arranged to bring the ideas of Scouting home to America, where the BSA was formally founded February 8, 1910. The boy never gave his name, and today he is simply “The Unknown Scout.”

Outdoors Skills

Most boys are first drawn towards Scouting by two things – fire and knives. These are the oldest tools of Man, and the leaders make sure that a Scout is only allowed to use these things after being trained and demonstrating that he knows how to use them safely.

Earning the first three ranks in the Boy Scouts (Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class) requires learning the skills of woodcraft – packing for an overnight trip in the wild, pitching a tent, land navigation, confronting the elements, first aid, cooking, using ropes, and personal fitness. The later ranks (Star, Life, and Eagle) involve planning expeditions and teaching those skills to the younger boys.

Leadership

“The generation now being shaped by Scouting will be strengthened by deserved self-confidence and molded with its own history of kindness, bravery, honesty, and its all-out pursuit of excellence.” -Earl G. Graves, Publisher, Black Enterprise Magazine

One of the primary objectives in every troop is to have a “boy led” organization. The adult leaders are present to offer guidance and supervise to watch out for safety issues (and to chauffeur the Scouts hither and yon). It is the senior Scouts who choose what activities they want the group to do and figure out how to make it happen. The Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) presides over weekly meetings and is tasked with keeping a crowd of teenagers focused on a common purpose. Yes, that is as hard as it sounds, and the SPL is usually only 16 or 17 himself. Other Scouts are responsible for keeping track of the Troop’s equipment (Quartermaster) or training the newcomers (Troop Guide).

There are also many programs and courses offered to teach leadership skills, many of them taught by experienced Scouts. Courses covering similar material are available in the business world as seminars and such for thousands of dollars a head, while the Boy Scouts offers them for a fraction of the cost, as much of their staff is made up of volunteers. A troop gives Scouts a chance to lead in an environment that expects them to make mistakes from time to time, and rather than punish failures, those above take the time to show the boys how to improve.

Character

“Scouting reinforces values you brought from home. It gave us an opportunity to share them with others whose values were not as strong.” -Jose Nino, President and chief executive officer, El Nino Group, and former President, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The Scout Oath:

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

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

The Scout Motto: Be Prepared.

The Scout Slogan: Do a Good Turn daily.

These are the principles that all Scouts are expected to uphold. A key point is the first line – “I will do my best.” No man is perfect, and boys even less so, but all try. Rather than telling boys a list of things NOT to do, which to them implies anything not on the list is OK, it tells them what TO do and gives them a high standard to live up to.

Citizenship

“I assure you of my own personal appreciation of Scouting as a magnificent experience and form of social and religious commitment.” -His Holiness Pope John Paul II

Many of the rank advancement requirements involve learning to be a good citizen. It starts with learning the proper treatment and respect for the American flag and discussing a citizen’s Constitutional Rights and obligations with an appropriate expert. Earning the Eagle award requires 21 Merit Badges, which must include Citizenship in the Community, the Nation, and the World. To earn these three awards, they need to understand how their government works, who their representatives are, and what they can do to affect change in government. One of the requirements is to pick an issue and actually write a letter to their Congressman. Of the current Senate and House of Representatives, 211 out of 535 are affiliated with the Boy Scouts in one way or another, and 22 of those are Eagle Scouts. The late President Gerald R. Ford was also an Eagle.

Service to others

“…to help other people at all times…”

“Do a Good Turn daily.”

Helpful, Courteous, Kind

Scouts are aware that there are many in this world less fortunate than they, and public service is an integral part of Scouting. Scouting for Food collects millions of cans of food for the needy every year. The variety of other service projects undertaken is far too broad to truly do it justice here. Just to name a few: installing new safety nets for a fish hatchery, building a handicapped access ramp for the Red Cross, restoring a historic cemetery, repairing damaged trails, and refinishing and installing church pews. Since Barack Obama’s inauguration and national call to service, the BSA has been running a program called Good Turn for America that has resulted in over 8 million recorded hours of community service in its first year.

Many choose to continue service for their adult professions. In addition to elected office, many work for the government in other capacities or for nonprofit organizations. The military is also a common choice – Eagle Scouts who enlist start out at pay grade E3 instead of E1, and of the class of 2013 for West Point, 40% were Scouts and 16% are Eagles or Gold Scouts (the Girl Scout equivalent).

100th Anniversary

“In the 30 years that I’ve been doing this for a living, I’ve never had a parent say to me, ‘I regretted the time I spent with my son or child in Scouting.’” -Roy L. Williams, Chief Scout Executive, Boy Scouts of America

In honor of their 100th anniversary, Councils and Troops have been encouraged to reach out to past members and recognize the history and achievements of past members – seek out your local council for more specifics. They are also making plans for the future to respond to changes in our civilization and in technology. For example, Webmaster has now been added as an official position of responsibility within Troops, and a new requirement for the lower ranks addresses cyberbullying.

The National Council has created a new award that can only be earned this year. This award comes in five parts: Outdoors, Achievement, Character, Leadership and Service, and there are different sets of requirements for Scouts, current Adult Leaders, and Alumni. Even alumni who are no longer active members can earn the awards on their own, though many of the requirements involve re-connecting with local Scout groups. Adults don’t need to have a son in a Troop to help out in the organization, and there are positions available that don’t require attendance at weekly meetings. Anyone who wants to help (and can pass a criminal background check) can find a place, even if it’s just as a Merit Badge counselor for your profession or hobby.

Further Reading

Scouting 100 Year Celebration

National Eagle Scout Association

2010 National Jamboree promises to be the biggest and the best ever. 43,000 Scouts and leaders gather for fun, fellowship, and patch trading.

{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tyro Prate February 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Bigotry is not a character trait I would want my son to learn…

2 James Malanowski February 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I have been involved with Scouting for many years and I can’t think of one time that bigotry has been taught. Our Troop is fairly diverse and we have never turned any one away because of race, religion, etc. Acceptance and tolerance are taught to all.

3 Michael February 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Very exciting!

I loved scouting; it was definite factor in making me into a man. My organizational skills, cooking skills and outdoors skills all have their roots in my days as a scout.

I am now the adult leader for a Varsity Troop, and it’s great fun to challenge the boys to do new things. A few weeks ago we did snow camping, which they had never done. They sure were proud of themselves, their igloos and the realization that they could handle it.

Also, knives and fires are still cool.

4 Jason February 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I was going to make a comment counting down the seconds until someone criticized the BSA for their gay policy. But it was the first comment! Liberals just do not disappoint.

5 Phillip Holland February 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

“The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest private youth organizations in the United States, has policies which prohibit atheists and agnostics from membership in its Scouting program, and prohibit “avowed” homosexuals from leadership roles in its Scouting program. BSA has denied or revoked the membership of youths and adults for violating these prohibitions.” -Wikipedia (Hey, I know it’s not the “best” source, but it works well here.)

I’m sorry James, but Boy Scouts actively turn away atheists and homosexuals. They are, by definition, bigots.

6 Brett McKay February 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm

The subject of this post is the 100th anniversary of the BSA. It is not about the BSA’s policy on gays or religion. And I don’t want it to turn into a debate on that subject. If you disagree with the BSA’s policies, you are entitled to your opinion. But this isn’t the place to discuss it. Keep your comments on topic, please.

7 Phillip Holland February 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Brett,

I totally respect your blog and your right to moderate your comments, and if you want to delete my comment feel free. I just wanted people to understand that the BSA has policies that some men don’t agree with, such as shutting out people because of their religious beliefs. Many men consider exclusionary policies such as this childish, and not manly at all.

8 Mike at The Big Stick February 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Great post. I came from a Scouting family where myself and my siblings were all heavily involved in Scouts. At nearly 35 years old I can say with complete honesty that Scouting was the definitive experience of my youth. The values that I learned, the skills, the time spent in nature, helping my community and most importantly the pride I had every time my dad joined me on a camping trip or some other event and I could demonstrate that I was slowly becoming a man. The genuine respect I got from younger Scouts when I was nearing the end of my time in the troop made me understand the responsibility of leadership and I was thriled to take them under my wing and make their experience a positive one. I cannot say enough good things about Scouting and what it did for me. Here’s hoping it makes it another 100 years.

Zit-Kala-Sha

9 Dr. Rod Berger February 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I know that there are many opinions as to the inclusiveness of the Boy Scouts…I didn’t have a good experience myself, but know of so many that did. I applaud those with open minds and continued efforts toward boys of all ages!
Dr. Rod

10 Frank Short February 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Mr. McKay,

If nothing else, the statement that “Anyone who wants to help (and can pass a criminal background check) can find a place” is factually incorrect. Please note, though, that it was Mr. Burger who raised the question of values.

11 LastBoyScout February 8, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I am an Eagle Scout, and I joined Tiger Cubs when i was 5 years old.

If it was not for the BSA and a whole youth spent learning the Scouting way, i would not be the successful Person I am today. The BoyScouts take a lot of crap about their rules and ways of turning young boys into real men. I learned to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. I help other people at all times, and keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

12 JonathanL February 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

i think it is great that there are organizatiosn that teach valuable character-building skills out there. BSA may not work for my son, but it works for many, and i am sure it does far more good than harm. i just have to find another option for my child.

13 Waltman February 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

In a world of men raised by women, idiot men on every sitcom, gangsta rap on “pop” music stations, criminals playing professional sports, many of them reliant on performance-enhancing drugs to be any good at their sport of choice, Scouting + the involvement of the male parental figure is the last, best hope for the future of manliness on Earth.

14 MomofScout February 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Is Scouting for everyone? No. Scouting makes astronauts, government officials, Generals, Presidents of the United States, artists, musicians, computer moguls, actors.

Someone has to work at McDonalds…

15 A Scoutmaster February 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm

The BSA is a RELIGIOUS organization and has been found to be such by the Supreme court. Scouting, like any traditional religious organization, requires a belief in God. Everyone who joins knows this.

As to homosexuals: Many religious communities – indeed, most throughout history — have considered homosexual acts an abomination. BSA bans people who openly practice such under the rights granted it by the US Constitution.

Men understand that other men have rights. Whiners really shouldn’t be reading AOM.

16 Michael February 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I’m not a Christian and I don’t hate gay people, so no BSA for me. C’est la vie.

17 Rick M February 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I myself am and Eagle Scout. I started as a cub scout and worked my way up. I am proud to be associated with an organization like the BSA. I list my Eagle Rank on my Resume and several times in my career it HAS made a difference. As many scouts will tell you the same, a lot of what I am and what I believe in was formed during my years in the Boy Scouts. I am not a bigot or religious intolerant or against a persons sexual preferences. What I am is a man striving to be the best I can for myself, my family and my friends. How I carved my niche out in this world was a direct result of my time and lessons learned both good and bad as a scout. I am a better man for following the scouting path.

On a final note (sorry Mr.McKay a little off your topic); So many people are quick to slam the BSA because of the choices a select few in the “organization” made into policy (I can name quite a few elected officials that have done similar in the guise of “helping” us citizens). These people fail to look past their own ignorance and see the true nature of the scouts and that is to teach a boy how to become a young man, leader and a better person. To respect those around him and the earth they live on. While I was in scouts there was never an issue as to your religious or life choices. We learned to follow a set of laws that were simple and made sense to a young kid. To us we were all scouts … adults and kids.

18 A Scoutmaster February 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

BSA doesn’t hate gay people, either, it just disagrees that it’s OK to view sexually active gays as role models. Why is it that if I disagree with someone I am tarred with “hate?” How do YOU know what is in anyone’s heart? The BSA doesn’t toss around word slike “hate,” so yeah, c’est la vie, indeed, Michael.

19 MarkA February 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I joined the scouts, troop 1210, some 25 or so years ago. I was ready to be, “Joe Scout”, too. I was so excited.

1. A bunch of the boys smoked pot outside the meeting area which was at a school. I wasn’t interested.

2. I went to a single Jamborree, it was some kind of inter-troop competition. My troop totally cheated at fire starting.

I left the scouts.

20 waltman February 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm

BSA isn’t perfect by any means. But neither is anything else. You have to start somewhere, and scouting is miles ahead of any other organization available today.

I’m neither Christian, nor a hater of anything in particular. I lead a Pack and my son’s Den in the Cub Scouts. If your local Pack/Troop teaches exclusion of any kind, then it’s not something I would recommend you support. But it varies wildly from district to district. Look into how the vibe is in YOUR local Pack/Troop before you start doing any hate mongering of your own.

21 Michael Brewer February 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

The papal quotation is an excerpt from the “Address of His Holiness John Paul II to the Secretary General and the Members of the World Committee of Scouting,” delivered on September 20, 1990.

The cited paragraph reads, “Scouting is above all an education. The members of the movement experience it as a growth into personal maturity and social responsibility. They learn to assume their place in life with a high degree of commitment to the common good. They learn to care for the less fortunate. They develop a fervent desire to build a culture of goodwill; they learn openness and harmony in human relationships, respect for the environment, acceptance of duties, including the most fundamental of all duties: love of the Creator and obedience to his will.”

The full text of the Holy Father’s remarks may be found at the following address:
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1990/september/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19900920_scoutismo_en.html

22 Frank February 8, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Hatred, bigotry, and intollerance are NOT manly qualities. Raising boys to believe that excluding people based on their religious beliefs or sexual orientation is not a way to raise a “man.”

This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. It is about respecting others and teaching boys to do the same. Sure a private institution can exclude such individuals, but such an institution should not be put on a pedestal or celebrated for a 100 year history.

Mr. McKay: With all due respect, the bigotry and exclusionary practices are a part of the 100 year history of this institution, and any posting paying tribute to its history is incomplete with out discussion such.

I think the idea of scouting is excellent, and I too was a scout as a boy. Preparedness, service, respect are all excellent traits to instill in young men, but that respect should extend to all people. Teaching boys to not make judgments of people but to give due respect to all regardless of the orientation or beliefs is what really makes a boy into a man.

23 Donovan February 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Frank essentially just called every member of a conservative to middle of the road Christian church a hateful, intolerant, unmanly bigot. And we wonder why there is such a divide on this debate. I personally can’t think of anything more unmanly that painting with such a broad, prejudiced brush.

“Sure a private institution can exclude such individuals, but such an institution should not be put on a pedestal or celebrated for a 100 year history.”

I guess we shouldn’t celebrate the history of the military then. Or the Catholic church. Or any church. Cause they’re all just filled with hateful bigots. Right.

24 Frank February 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Donovan: I would like to keep this on topic as requested. But there is a distinction between the teachings of the institutions and those who are members. Nowhere in the post is it insinuated that scouts were hateful or bigoted in any way – rather that the institution has chosen to exclude members based on a hateful and exclusionary rubric. Such teachings are not worth celebrating and are not the making of fine men.

Likewise my comments could never be taken to label Catholics or military service members. Those individuals serve with pride and duty. Old institutions like the US Armed Forces have too recognized the error of their ways and are reforming their policies (don’t ask don’t tell will be gone within a year). This should be commended, and is emblematic of the prudence and respect of the proud history and excellence of the US Armed Forces.

It is a shame the BSA does not follow suit and come to recognize that they are promoting a dated and hateful message.

25 Frank Short February 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Mr. Malanowski, Rick M, waltman,

The National Council has revoked the charters of local councils for adopting nondiscrimination policies.

N.B.: I am not the Frank who left comments 22 and 24.

26 Ambrose Bierce February 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm

BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

–The Devil’s Dictionary

27 Eagle Scout February 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Wow, AOM puts up an article about one of the most distinguished youth organizations in the USA and all some of you can talk about is bigotry? Geez, why do you even visit this site? Homos are the antithesis of manliness, just ask any man from the era when men actually behaved like men (prior to the fifties). Obviously you’ve all been castrated in the public school system or wherever else you were indoctrinated. BSA fortunately has chosen to remain a manly organization and I’m thankful for that.

-An Eagle Scout

28 Dakota February 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I was a scout and earned my Eagle. I am proud of that, and enjoyed my time of scouting. I do have one criticism for the organization, however, that has nothing to do with its policies on gays and atheists, etc.

I feel like BSA has lost sight of its original roots in actual “scouting.” Outdoor skills beyond basic camping and fire-building have been tossed by the wayside. They have added great mental and spiritual-building elements to the “curriculum,” but have taken away a lot of outdoor skills that I think makes BSA unique.

Looking back at my grandad’s handbook from 1913, I see practical skills in signaling, tracking animals, wilderness survival, pioneering and other similar skills at the forefront of the book, along with the mental/spiritual building elements.

Today, some of these skills are still “available” through merit badges or the individual experience of adult leaders, but I’ve found most troops are content with rolling up in their cars to a campsite, sitting in their dome tent for a couple of nights while warming hotdogs on the fire, and driving right home, repeating essentially the same outing every time.

I like the Boy Scouts, and remember my time fondly. Here’s to another 100…but I hope they refocus on the outdoor basis it was founded on. We already have plenty of Boys and Girls Clubs and the like…it’s the practical outdoor basis that makes BSA unique.

29 Dan February 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

This post reminded me how much I appreciate my mom (yeah, she needs most the credit here) for pushing me through to get my Eagle. Also, the same goes for doing the Chief Scout Challenge (the British Boy Scout equivalent) while I lived in England. I remember thinking when I got the awards and when they asked me how much scouting meant to me not really knowing what to say, but today I can say that they were a huge part of my life. As others have said, the lessons learned cannot be discounted.

Now just because a organization does more good than bad does NOT make them good. I believe the intentions of the BSA are of the top quality, as well as their defense of what they believe will make a better man. You may think they are off track, wrong or whatever, but they have set up everything they can to make a difference for good in this world, and done a pretty bang up job of it too, but its these desires that make them good in my book.

Finally, someone said whiners shouldn’t read AOM, I really have to disagree. I agree they should keep their whining to themselves, but just like its the sick people that need the doctor, its whiners that need AOM. (I’m not calling anyone a whiner…just to be clear on that)

30 Zacwax February 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I’m an eagle scout, but I have to say that the Boy Scouts is an obsolete organization. They have failed to adapt to the changing times. Certainly certain aspects still apply, safety and outdoor camping merit badges, becoming a member of your community.

But their policies on religion and sexuality are wrong. They are a a private organization that uses public funds, to exclude members. I imagine if the Mormon church and far right wing didn’t do a forceful take over in the 70s things would be much different.

Also the uniforms are really really terrible

31 Jake Chesterfield February 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I’m an Eagle Scout. Thanks for posting this up! I’m excited to getting involved again and earning that Centennial Award.

Boy Scouts had a huge impact on me has a boy. The skills and values I learned are still with me. I’m usually the only guy on a camping trip who knows how to start a fire without ligher fluid or can tie a correct knot when tying stuff down in a truck. Also, it gave my young self a chance to learn about service and leadership.

As to their policies, I don’t agree with them, but the highest court in the land says as a private organization, they can discriminate against gays and atheists. Accepting public funding is a tricky issue, because it does raise the issue that state and federal governments are tacitly approving of unconstitutional discrimination. I agree the Scouts are trying to have it both ways. They want the funding from the government but at the same time they want the right to discriminate as a private organization. I don’t see BSA giving up on not accepting atheists into their organization anytime soon, but I do see them giving ground on accepting homosexuals. They’ve been making changes slowly the past few decade and I think we’ll see them repeal this policy.

Despite these policies, I’m still going to encourage my son to get involved with scouts. I didn’t turn out a bigot because of its policies. Most boys that go through the program don’t either.

32 An Eagle February 8, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I just became an Eagle within the last year, and it really hurts me to see what some people have to say about scouting. I believe a few points need to be made. First off, I hail from one of the only councils in America that in tolerant toward atheism and homosexuality (I heard this from a friend who works at a camp, so I don’t know what his source is). Anyway, I’d just like to say that just because an organization has a certain policy doesn’t mean those within the organization have to hold those beliefs as well. I have a friend who was an atheist who became an Eagle shortly after I did. I know that scouting has a socially backward track record, but I know I speak for a hefty number of scouts when I say that we aren’t all part of the religious right. Also, if you look past those issues, what organization in America instills better values and develops better leadership in young men than Scouting?

33 Greg February 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I was a scout and now my son is a Wolf Cub. I’m not comfortable with some of the BSA’s politics, but I’m confident enough in my own parenting to teach my son what I believe is right and wrong and helping him make decisions. Our extremely liberal church should balance out anything the scouts throw his way.

My main problem with scouting now is the same problem I have with so many activities geared towards children today: too much coddling. It seems more important to help they boys feel good about themselves than it is for them to learn about hard work and discipline. Awards and badges are handed out just on the assumption that the boy did the work: “here’s your Bobcat badge, I’m sure you did all the requirements.” Every kid who makes (or whose dad makes) a pinewood derby car gets a blue ribbon–my son’s was for “best use of Spiderman.” It may just be our pack that is lame, but I hear similar things from friends in other packs.

And don’t even get me started on what behavior they allow at the pack and den meetings. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve left a meeting and I’ve congratulated my son on how well he behaved, that he didn’t join in the bad behavior of his friends.

How is it developing real men if they learn they don’t really have to work for recognition or aren’t taught discipline? I hope that the BSA continues to thrive, but to do so, they need to adapt to the 21st century, and they need to buck the trend of trying to make everyone feel so damn good about themselves

34 Warrior for All February 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

As a former member of scouting and an Eagle scout I am going to be some what biased in my views, but I am going to step back and examine it for every one. The main reason that BSA does not allow homosexuals (and it does not) is to provide a safe and stable environment for boys, the same reason that BSA does not allow girls in scouting (to an extent). The purpose of scouting is to make men out of boys by teaching skills and leadership, not how to get laid. There should be no sexual tension in scouting on who is hitting on who, but who can get the job done, and who can lead. BSA teaches leadership not necessarily social skills, you can learn those else were. Also the people that say BSA is bigoted should remember that part of the scout law is to be courteous, kind, and reverent. this is thought to all scouts from the lowest rank up.
Also remember the fact that there are Boy Scout troops of all religions, no bigotry there.
The atheist issue is connected, again part of the scout oath is to be morally straight, and to honer god and country.
I will ask any atheist to give me a definitive list of morals that can only be based on the logic that there is no god, and we only live once.

By being selective a safer and more unified environment is made for boys to grow into leaders and men.

35 Sean Teegarden February 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Wow, what a mixed bag of opinions, it is quite sad that both sides are missing the point.

Name a single additional organization that actively teaches young men to help others selflessly and at the same time gives them skills to be successful in their business, family, and local communities; I am drawing a blank. I would not know how to do half the things I rely upon in my daily business and personal life if not for scouting.

Plain and Simple, scouting has no place to discuss sexual preference. Both Hetero and Homosexual individuals that flaunt their “choice” should be kicked out as there are disrupting the process of Skill and Team building. Unfortunately, the Organization followed the military in their decision of a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy and yes, it has HUGE flaws. But again, The organization is designed to make boys competent in many fields, knowing how to lead during emergency situations, the art of improvising, and countless other skills, not which team you play for. I am a MacGyver thanks to Boy Scouts.

Having grown up in the Scouts in Los Angeles, I can say that “don’t ask don’t tell” is quite flexible. I have several friends who are Eagle scouts and gay. Quite frankly, I don’t care who someone sleeps with, it’s not my problem and most of the people I grew up with would say the same. The BSA is not the problem, it’s many of the closed minded people at the top who like to tell other what to do and when confronted, hide in the dark corners of bureaucracy.

I realize that there is a lot to be upset about and guess what, Each and every one of you has the power to change it. You don’t like that scouting in your area is anti-gay, make a troop and make it as a-sexual as possible. Kid shouldn’t be learning about how to mistreat and objectify women or men, Your job as a scoutmaster is to teach them.

Even more than ever Scouting is needed, I just can’t imagine a world where people don’t learn how to help one another. That’s what being a Boy Scout is…

Sean Teegarden
Eagle Scout, 2001
OA Section Chief 2003-2004

36 Hans Hageman February 8, 2010 at 8:52 pm

This made me reminisce! I had one of the only active Scout troops in Harlem. We traveled to Philmont, New Mexico and had an incredible time. My “boys” are now in their mid-to-late twenties and the Scouting experience is an indelible memory. Hmmm? Am I too old to start another troop?

37 Graham Hutson February 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I was a boyscout, and I can still tie a reef knot to this day.

http://www.openzedoor.blogspot.com

38 Angelia Sparrow February 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I was a Cub Scout leader, stepped in when my son’s leader left unexpectedly. I took my boys through their Wolf and kept my mouth shut about my orientation. (people really assume a lot when you’re married to someone of the opposite sex) Boy Scouting was expensive, stressful and my son was glad to leave at the end of his Wolf year.

It can be a great thing. It can be a haven for bigotry. It depends entirely on the leaders. Which is true of all scouting experiences.

39 Gregory February 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Boy Scouting is largely responsible for my being the man I am today.

On my road to becoming an Eagle Scout, I grew in my relationship with God, learned valuable skills and manly traditions, and met lifelong mentors. It is the ultimate male organization for both men and boys, with the men passing on what they learned to the next generation.

Now to clarify for the critics above: Boy Scouting is an organization rich in manly tradition. God absolutely can’t be removed from Boy Scouting as He is the most essential part of it; duty to God literally comes before anything else. Homosexuality is not a manly tradition, and it would be harmful to allow it in Boy Scouting because (1) it goes against the Judeo-Christian morality upon which Boy Scouting is built, and (2) having homosexuals (especially adults) around boys (especially younger ones) at campouts and the like could lead to disastrously harmful situations.

40 Eric Harrison February 8, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I am an Eagle Scout. My dad is an Eagle Scout. My little brother (R.I.P) Is an Eagle Scout. I value my Eagle over everything else I have achieved in life. Scouting taught me the life lessons that have made me who I am today. I was brought up with the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Promise since I was in the womb. My father would recite these values to me like many parents today will play Mozart, and because of it I am a better man. I had the opportunity to go to Sea Base, Philmont (x3), Northern Tier and the National Jamboree. I would not have gotten into college without my scouting experience. I wouldn’t have earned a Navy ROTC scholarship without my Scouting history. Scouting does more for boys than any other single program. It is there in the inner city, keeping boys off the street, keeping them from gangs and drugs. It takes those boys to places they have only dreamed and read about. Having worked with inner city troops and scouts, in Atlanta, in my 6 years on summer camp staff and my years as an adult leader, it is near impossible for me to overstate what scouting can do for these forgotten boys. It can truly take them places and provide for their character development.
As for our more controversial points. I know many gay scouts and leaders in the program. The same goes for atheists. There are more than you would believe, and many of them are fantastic role models. There are some, just like their heterosexual and theistic counterparts, that are absolutely terrible leaders and shouldn’t be in the program. The main sources of boys for scouting are the Mormon and Evangelical churches. If Scouting were to change it’s policies more boys would be lost than would be gained. At this point it is necessary for these policies in order for the movement to continue.
I will never forget what scouting has done for me, and I will never stop giving back to the Program.

41 Tucker Peterson February 9, 2010 at 12:00 am

I have mixed feelings about the Scouts. I had a great experience as a Cub Scout, thanks largely to the efforts of my mother (the Den Mother) and my Eagle Scout father. But once I joined the Boy Scouts, I was shocked at how little outdoors activities we had. My father had taught us from his broken spined Scout Handbook, printed in the 40s (man, I wish I had that) and we learned the skills that started with B-P.

I dropped out and my friends and I did our own outdoor adventures. But I never forgot the excitement of reading the handbook and imagining myself out in the wilderness, with minimal equipment, having a blast.

Per Brent’s request, which everyone seems to have ignored, I am not going to address the “bigot issue.” I have my opinion but I’m a man, and when another man asks me to not argue about a subject in ‘his house’, I respect his wishes.

42 Frank Short February 9, 2010 at 12:00 am

Gregory,

There is nothing uniquely Judeo-Christian about the values of Scouting. The diversity of religious awards stands as proof.

Research has shown no connection between homosexuality and child molestation. Most men who molest boys either do not have adult sexual relationships or have them with women.

Mr. Harrison,

Sadly, as you may know, Scouting has been in steady decline since the 1970s. That will continue if nothing changes.

43 David Anaxagoras February 9, 2010 at 12:07 am

Men don’t tolerate injustice. Any organization that embodies prejudice doesn’t build character, it destroys it. Man up, be honest, and stop making excuses.

44 Harry R. Burger February 9, 2010 at 12:16 am

For those who lament the fall from grace of the troops they see and all that has been lost since their day, there is an easy fix – go join that troop and teach them what they have forgotten, or perhaps never knew. Become a Merit Badge councilor for the badges that still teach those skills. The Scout Spirit isn’t to whine and moan on a blog with semi-anonymous comments, it’s to pitch in and do something positive to “leave it better than you found it.”

45 Greg February 9, 2010 at 12:30 am

Well gentlemen, To the critics, may one ask just what would you expect of an organization whose core values are those of a very senior British Army cavalry officer from the late Victorian/early Edwardian era? The real question is, do any of those who decry the organization’s Anglican antipathy towards homosexuals and atheists wish to work at instilling self respect, innate charity, self-confidence and a sense of community responsibility in boys?

46 Joe February 9, 2010 at 12:43 am

Great article! As an Eagle Scout I daily use the skills I learned throughout my entire Scouting career and as a camp counselor in the summer, those skills are reinforced as I pass what I’ve learned to another generation, just as older scouts did for me. It’s quite a mix of emotions when you have a 13 year old come up to you at a campfire and ask how to make a s’more because they’ve never roasted a marshmallow before.

47 Will Canuck February 9, 2010 at 2:23 am

Sadly, there are no longer boy scouts in Canada. We used to have them, in the more British tradition (which was almost 100% secular by 1984) but somewhere along the line it became co-ed and now most troops are more than 50% female with no real attention to lessons in becoming a man or the life skills that could facilitate that. It is a shame. I often think about starting a local group that uses the old texts.

As an atheist, I would have been fine in 1984 scouting in Canada but not in 2010 BSA. That is a shame. With America’s facination with devisive religion and divisiveness in general, I don’t imagine the BSA will be able to work out their problems easily.

Donovan. You are entitled to your opinion. While I don’t share your views, I ask that you not cheapen this website with the style of your debate. You called Frank a bigot 4 times in you last post. He has not said or inferred anything to deserve that. If a group of people have to view morality artificially through heavily edited bronzed aged texts, that is their prerogative. When that impacts the life of the citizen, it becomes wrong. Wrong for Muslim countries, wrong for Canada, wrong for America.

48 Sir Lancelot February 9, 2010 at 4:00 am

Reading some comments here I’m reminded of a 12-year-old girl shouting “Oh my God, I hate you, I hate you!” to her mom because she won’t buy her the new Hannah Montana CD. Of course she doesn’t hate her, but she feels a negative emotion and he young mind can’t distinguish subtleties, so she verbalizes it as hate.

Similarly here I see people thoughtlessly bandying around words like “hate”, “bigotry” and “discrimination” like a tar brush.

Disapproval of homosexual sex does in no way imply hatred of individuals. I disapprove of your opinion on the Boy Scout movement, but I don’t hate you. If you were a drug addict I would disapprove of your use of drugs, but I wouldn’t hate you. I think you catch my drift…

As for discrmination, whenever you choose right from wrong you are discriminating. You are saying somethings are better than others. We all discriminate on a daily basis. It’s impossible not to unless you’re a moral and intellectual imbecile, and a private organisation has every right to decide what its values are.

Then we have bigotry. It seems in this post-modern vanilla world having any conviction at all is a no-no in case you allienate someone. Well, I have news for you – it’s impossible taking sides on any issue without placing yourself on the opposite those who hold the opposite view. Of course that swear word, Judeo-Christian had to make its appearance. It seems in post-modern eyes all evil stems from Judeo-Christian values. Well, it turns out the Western world is largely based on Judeo-Christian values. Even your worldview is, even though you may not realise it. If you condemn the Boy Scouts for having a Judeo-Christian values you might as well knock down the whole Western world and start anew.

49 Ex-Boy Scout February 9, 2010 at 6:27 am

The ideals of good citizenship and helping others are directly contrary to the bigotry of the BSA.

The BSA used to be about scouting. Over the last 30 years, it has degenerated into a religious organization about bigotry, with only the faintest trappings of its old purpose. Many former Eagle Scouts have returned their badges in protest, and the BSA has only retrenched, like “A Scoutmaster” above, with more hatred.

Promoting this dead, corrupted corpse of an organization is like idolizing the KKK for protecting the same kind of “community values”, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

50 Jonathan February 9, 2010 at 7:59 am

You know, it’s funny to read all the comments that accuse the Scouts as “bigots” because never once was anyone discriminated against in my troop.

My Eagle Scout award is one of my most prized achievements because I worked for it for 10 years, from the time I was a Cub Scout until I was 17. The only achievement I am more proud of? My Bachelor’s degree. That should say something.

I object to the politicization of the organization, but to say that it’s completely corrupt is, (to use a phrase often used on this website) throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am a Boy Scout, my father was a Boy Scout and is still active in the local troop, some of my best friends are Boy Scouts, It is, like so many things in life, what you make it. Like my father taught me, you can choose to be unhappy, or you can choose to do something about it.

Don’t like the BSA? Work to make it better. Either do something about what you perceive as injustice, or keep your comments to yourself.

Jonathan Hurst
Troop 550, Bloomfield OH
Eagle Scout with Bronze Palm, 2003
OA Ordeal Member

I am proud of every bit of that.

51 Brohammas February 9, 2010 at 9:08 am

I would like to bring this discussion back to truly important questions and topics…
Was mine the only Troop that added “and hungry” at the end of the scout oath?
and at what point in our 100 year history did we start giving “round of applause” by clapping in a circle?

52 ER February 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

The Boy Scouts was a decent organization until it was taken over by the Mormon Church in the 50s. Penn and Teller’s Bulls–t had an excellent episode on this controversy (Season 4, Episode 1).

@Jonathan, It’s impossible to practice bigotry against someone if that person is barred from associating with your group because of their faith or sexual orientation… which happens to be the definition of bigotry.

53 Jonathan February 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

Brohammas,
I’ve never thought about adding “and hungry” to the end of the Scout Oath. It did certainly apply sometimes. Although, on the whole, we were an incredibly well-fed troop. Every year we would look forward to the cooking merit badge campout. An entire weekend of cooking and eating…that was a campout.

Round of applause? Glad to see we weren’t the only ones who did that. Although it was mostly for the Cub Scouts.

54 Phil Reinke February 9, 2010 at 9:28 am

40 years ago…scouting made a BIG difference in who I am today. The Pinewood Derby was one of the highpoints of my scouting experience…both as a scout and the parent of a scout. To give back, for what I received…I just wrote and released a book about the Derby called “Pinewood-Winning by the Rules” ISBN 978-1-60911-153-3. It shows that the BIG race can be won by sticking to the rules…Isn’t that what scouting is all about?
My son was district champ for 3 years in a row. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and through my website http://www.PinnacleCarRacing.com

55 Matt February 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

I am profoundly grateful for my time in the scouts and my time achieving the rank of Eagle, but like several others here I think they could drop the religious component and not suffer. Most of the scout troops in big cities tend to be pretty tolerant already – mine had a Hindu, who we accommodated when planning menus.

As to whoever is arguing about morals and atheism and god above, I really suggest that you men manly and otherwise take it to a more appropriate blog like http://www.unreasonablefaith.com or http://www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula if you really have an axe to grind with nonbelievers. Trust me, their axes are already sharp.

56 Jonathan February 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

@ ER
Are you calling me, personally, a bigot? I was sharing my experience with Scouting, which was an overwhelmingly positive one, and how it taught me to deal everyone on an equal level.

@ Phil,
Man, I could never build a decent car. I would have loved to have that book when I was in Cub Scouts.

57 xkungpowx February 9, 2010 at 10:50 am

I’m an Eagle Scout and cherish my time with the BSA. I learned a lot of extremely valuable life-skills and became a better man through the experience.

58 Bryan February 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

I am an Eagle Scout. I joined Boy Scout Troop 1, Flushing NY as a youth (one of the oldest in the nation, that turns 100 the same time as the BSA).

I am the father of a Life Scout and a Scoutmaster.

Scouting has been nothing but good to me and my family! It is an incredible program that gives back to the Community on a regular basis. While I agree with Dakota that we have drifted away from traditional ‘scouting’, some of us on the ground floor are trying to steer it back.

Scouting is about Faith, Service, Duty and Citizenship. It is about teaching boys to be MEN of value! Show me another organization that does that today. You do not have to be Christian to be in Scouting, you just have to have faith (there are many LDS, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim and yes Wiccan Boy Scout Troops out there).

There must be something to this program as my Troop has 137 Registered Boy Scouts and 80 registered Adult Volunteers. From different races, different religions and different economic status we all come together for weekly meetings and monthly campouts and always have a blast!

Thank you for the great article.

59 Uberhack February 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I second Sir Lancelot.
Our Cub Scout pack is very inclusive, as are many that I’ve come across. Painting all Scouts in this ugly way is unfair and prejudiced.
At the end of the day, if you don’t like the BSA’s policy on anything, you don’t have join. Simple solution. The scouts are still a private organization. They can set their rules of membership as the wish, better or for worse. If you decide to let your son join despite any concerns, well, now it’s time to be a parent and teach your son your own beliefs as well. It will be a good lesson that freewill and independent thinking are important attributes when dealing in large groups.

60 Tim February 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I echo Dakota’s and Will Canuck’s comments.

I am a former Boy Scouts of Canada member, from 1982 to 1989, progressing through Beavers, Wolf Cubs, and finally Scouts, later taking part in some Ventures activities with a friend while in high school. He’s now an RCMP member and I am a federal government forensic scientist; we are both doing our part to help society. Neither of us believe in a higher being, but are both “morally straight” in my own estimation. Fortunately, although lip service is paid to a god, the organization is quite secular up here.

I look back on my scouting experience with fond memories and I wish to have my own boys, 3 (tomorrow) and 9 months, experience the same fun and growth that I did. As mentioned, Scouts Canada has changed a great deal since I was involved, including the 1990′s amalgamation with Girl Guides into a co-ed group, something I have a issue with in the development of young men. This in part led to a fracturing of the organization into the commonly-known Scouts Canada and the newer but traditionally-based model, the Baden-Powell Service Association Federation of Canada. I’m looking into having my boys join the B-PSAFC, though the groups are few and far between. If I have to have them join Scouts Canada, I will need to exercise a bit of manly cognitive dissonance on my own part.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-PSA_Federation_of_Canada

61 DJ Wetzel February 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I enjoyed the Cub Scouts when I was a little fella and certainly want my kids involved in scouts. I have a lot of really close friends who stuck it through to their Eagle Scout rank and they are some of the most well rounded, dependable friends I have.

62 Tim February 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I should correct my above post by saying that the Girls Guides did not amalgamate with Scouts Canada, but rather that the latter fully accepts females as members. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Girl Guides of Canada has a larger membership than Scouts Canada does, even though it accepts boths genders where, as far as I can see, Guides is restricted to girls.

63 Chris February 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Through my time in Scouting, from 3rd grade as a Bobcat through becoming an Eagle scout, I never once heard a bigotted word from my Scoutmaster or any other. I had nothing but wonderful experiences, having gone to two National Jamborees and worked at the council camp for three summers.

In regards to the BSA’s stance on faith, they have ALWAYS been open to any religion, just closed to open atheism. The God and Country award that I earned was through the Methodist church, with components from several other denominations, including the Catholic church. There were similar emblems available for every other religion; Hindu, Buddist, Ba’hai, Judaism, Islam, etc. We even had a Sikh kid in our troop. He earned his Totin’ Chip before he could carry his dagger and swimming with a turban was something to behold. :)

I don’t understand Scouting’s exclusion of atheists or openly gay boys and I am not standing for these things, but to state that it’s a Christian organization is flat out wrong. I think the reason Scouting is in decline has nothing to do with these things and everything to do with getting kids away from video games. 11-18 year old boys are less likely to get away from those things than even I was, and I played a ton of Mario Brothers. They need to get out, get camping, and raise a little hell at the campfire.

64 Tom February 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Here’s the thing. I really like this website because so much of the information is usable. However, I am an out, card-carrying far-to-the-left liberal, homosexual. Yes Jason, liberals never fail to deliver. I hope you are proud to be a member of the party of hate.
I was a Scout, once upon a time, and I loved scouting. Never once did I try to get into the pants of my tentmate. Are you decrying the same bigoted crap that you do about the military? Are you aware that the military in the US is the only one in the developed world that excludes gays and lesbians from serving their country in this manner? Canada, Britain and Isreal have all excepted us into their ranks. Don’t you think that should start with the Boy Scouts? Why do you suppose all this is? Religion, that’s why. Americans are so uptight about everything and that’s why we have nothing. Nothing of any value. I’m going to stop here before I get into a rant.

65 John Armitage February 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Great post! Being in the Scouts played a huge part in my life. My sons are just now starting to get into it, and I am getting right back into it with them. The upcoming activities for the 100 years celebration look to be very fun!

John Armitage
Eagle Scout
Marine Corps Veteran
Man enough to respect Brett’s wishes and bite my tongue on all the other comments being made here.

66 Jen February 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I wanted my son to have benefits of a scouting organization, but was wary of how the Boy Scouts have changed in the last 15-20 years. I was very lucky to discover Trackers NW. ( http://trackerspdx.com/ ) Wonderful group. I can’t praise those guys enough.

My husband hates the outdoors and some dads don’t have the time *or* the skills. If it wasn’t for these kinds of programs I know many kids would miss out.

67 Gregory February 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

@Brohammas: The literal “Round of Applause” was part of my Troop (and Council) as well. It was fun.

@Sir Lancelot: Thank you. I am beginning to lose confidence in the readers of The Art of Manliness. Here we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts, and we are being called bigots for it. If these are the kind of people that this blog attracts, I’m not sure that I want to be a part of it any longer.

Troops generally open their meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance (which contains “one nation under God”), the Oath (which contains “do my duty to God”), and the Scout Law (which contains “A Scout is . . . reverent”). Most troops are affiliated with a church.

In my nearly twenty years in scouting, I have yet to come across an atheist or gay. The program, based on manly traditions, just doesn’t attract those types of people.

68 JFM February 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I am an Eagle Scout. I greatly enjoyed my time in the Scouts, and it was very formative for me. That said, if I had a Scouting-aged son today, I would discourage him from joining Scouts. Since I was a member, the BSA — at the national level, not at the level of most troops or councils — has become an increasingly political organization, devoted to a very particular brand of right-wing religious conservatism. If your troop is diverse and inclusive, that’s great. Even better if your council is. But don’t kid yourself about the national organization.

This all goes out to the baby and bathwater thing. The racism and homophobia the BSA (again, speaking only of the national organization) upholds are far from gentlemanly. If there were an alternative organization that provided the same opportunities for character building through public service, learning outdoor skills, and teamwork that Scouting did before it became obsessed with right-wing identity politics, I’d be glad to support it.

69 James February 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Eagle Scout, Silver Palm, ’92.

Also a rabid, bloodthirsty, batshit insano liberal who doesn’t regret a single day spent in the Boy Scouts of America and recognizes that a private organization can set whatever policies it likes, and if you don’t like it, don’t join!

The BSA’s policy on gays aside, the organization is inarguably a benefit to boys.

70 kafkaBro February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

great post,

Some of the most memorable days are those spent in summer camp at Yawgoog and on backpacking trips that my troop went on frequently. Sorry to join into the diversion that the author wanted to avoid, but I also would like to weigh in.

I first questioned the existence of god at Yawgoog when an older scout who was really into Nirvana was talking his own atheistic beliefs. The most compelling argument was how he brought all this up and said “It’s ok, you don’t need to think about this, its really not nice way to look at the world.” Scouts was also the first time I heard about post op-transexuals. Suffice it to say, I found absolutely no bigotry of the sort in my troop. This is the first time I heard about these problems and I’m sorry to hear that some troops cling slavishly to such arbitrary rules such as forbidding homosexuality and especially atheism (being atheist might help you get those biology or geology merit badges (Johnny for the last time, what time period are triassic fossils from?)). If you’re dealing with a troop that won’t work with you and bend the rules a little, you’re already in a bad situation. It is that sort of beareaucratic rigidity that Kafka (haha!) and Terry Gilliam warned would be the ruin of society, the end of true society and social health. Brazil (by Terry Gilliam) and the Trial by Kafka illustrate these points very well.

71 Gregor February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Great post for a great organization!

I work with scouts every Monday night and although it is skills and service we focus on, the underlying true message is autonomy. Instilling the skills for decision making, teamwork, leadership, not to mention physical skills like camping, first aid, etc, these will stay with a boy his entire life. It is a worthy cause (our youth) and a noble organization.

As for all the other banter, I think that is great as well, I teach that with the scouts. Just start a post in the forums. This is a recognition for an organization that helps boys fulfill their potential and become good men.

Thank you gentlemen.

72 Mr Miyagi February 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

This post took me back to the days when my dad and I would spend weeks putting together something for the annual Scouts Pinewood Derby race. Good memories. I think the Boy Scouts have changed a lot in this generation. Boys today don’t find it relevant. From what I’ve seen, since back in the 90s there has been a drop in young boys enrollment and for a while the organization suffered. Truth is there are fewer and fewer good men out there who are role models to these boys. I’ve even seen troops that were run and started up by their mother’s, who are more defensive and protective about letting their boys go on camping trips or hikes.

73 Sam February 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I’m also an Eagle Scout and a Naval Officer… a few people above have made comments regarding the BSA and the military excluding homosexuals.

First, the Military does not make policy; Congress passed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law AND more importantly… Congress passed the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Law all military members are sworn to live by… people REALLY need to learn more about the law and realize it’s not the military excluding homosexuals from serving, but Congress who writes the laws we serve under.

Secondly, the BSA teaches and practices acceptance of all religions and people without prejudice… it’s a religious based organization and as such has adopted the same values as MOST religions. It’s about core beliefs that do not include homosexual behavior.

I have no problem with homosexuals; I simply do not care what anyone beyond my wife does in their sex life; it’s none of my business. But I also have no desire to “celebrate”, condone or promote (in any way) their lifestyle.

74 Rob Martino February 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Nothing like a lively debate. I appreciate those who added other more controversial webpages to go complain on. I am an Eagle Scout from a single mother family and I can say with certainty that the Scouting made me the man I am today. I can also say that local leadership makes 100% difference in the program that any boy experiences, go meet a few troops, see who you like and then, like any good parent, GET INVOLVED and help drive results… To my mother’s credit she insisted I participate in scouting to get me around Manly Men in the outdoors and learn the ways of the world of men that she could not teach me. If nothing else, the scouts provides that service to boys.

If I was not in Boy Scouts I would not have not… held a leadership role during Grade School, learned any outdoor skills, done any camping at all, fired a weapon or used a bow, learned gun and knife safety, learned first aid and outdoor survival skills or any of the 21 required MANLY skills I learned and earned. I would not have as much respect for elders, or teachers or my Mother. I would not have learned how to set and accomplish a goal with plans and follow through actions, I would not have ever built anything for any reason, learned how to fix things. I would probably be afraid of dirt and cold. I would not have had my 1st real job and responsibility. I would not be a man…

To the Author Harry’s point, if you don’t like what you see, get up, get in there and change the program. The fact remains that no TV show or internet site or white washed class in grade school will do what the scouts does for young men. The military, police, corporate America, hundreds of millions of past and present scouts all recognize the value Scouting adds to the world. Sadly the middling of America has put such pressure on the Scouting because it’s not “PC” and has a definite focus, direction and rules. Are the rules really that rigid, NO. If you have a flag to waive the Scouts is probably not the place to waive it, but if you are interested in engaging in the program I have a really hard time believing you would be excluded except those rare instances as long as you deal with your personal differences with tact. I was never religious at all, I did not go around shouting to the other boys that God doesn’t exist, and when my boards of review came and went I was asked to try to be a little more reverent going forward, find my faith, whatever that is. The program is designed to develop boys into men by teaching various skills, leadership and communication over time which I believe it does quite well. I was thinking what part of leadership and team work involves sex of any type… it has no place in the program but to pollute the program and confuse the impressionable boys.

I am sure everybody would be happy if anyone could join and do whatever they like, but then it wouldn’t be the Boy Scouts of America. That is the way clubs work. You can also start your own club too… however I doubt you will get a big showing for the Homosexual Atheist Club of America, or what was that club they used to make fun of in Married with Children… NAMBLA…

The Debate reminds me of that white Cross on Government Property, erected by veterans and in danger of being taken down due to I think 1 person’s continued complaints… (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125492094232870683.html)… how some can distort policy and law and impose the will and opinion of few on the many is disturbing. Whatever happened to changing the channel if you don’t like what’s on. Don’t read what offends you. Don’t let your kids do things unsupervised if you are afraid of the results. We do not need a 1000 page US Constitution outlining everybody’s rights as decreed by the central government. We need what our founding fathers tried to build, a flexible system to accommodate as many as possible.

Most of the rules of scouting are to protect and develop boys into men. I sadly met a former scout just last week, a prospective client who told me a chillingly sad story about him and a scout master from 30 years ago. However statistically rare things are, they can ruin a program forever… As I understand it there was one child, one time in one location that received something in their Halloween candy but for my entire life the rumor that kids will be poisoned or hurt by neighbor’s Halloween candy has single handedly destroyed Halloween for kids of all ages. Sometimes the rules are for a reason, even if you can’t yourself imagine that happening or doing such a horrid thing to someone.

The Boy Scouts of America is not for everybody. It’s the people who want to take the institution down because it is not for you that ruin the reputation of the institution. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, make the world a better place. Salute the next Scout, Soldier, Fireman and Police Officer you see, they are doing their part, are you doing yours? Also, to all of you ex-Scouts and Eagles out there who do believe, if you don’t step up you will watch the program die and it will be nobody’s fault but your own.

Robert Martino
T 244 Rocky Point, NY
Yawgoog Sandy Beach Shoot Sports Counselor 95-97
Eagle 1998
Adult Leader / NESA & Council Organizing Member SCC BSA

75 Bradford February 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm

My father was a Boy Scout, I was a Boy Scout and my oldest son is now a Tiger Cub. I quite enjoyed the organization and I do think it was a valuable part of my life. Unfortunately, I am also conflicted because one of my brother-in-laws, who is an Eagle Scout, also happens to be gay and even though he still loves camping and the outdoors, he is unable to participate with a group he still truly loves. I do wish the BSA would reconsider its policies in this regard and since I have never seen bigotry displayed in the attitudes of people involved with scouting, I don’t think it would be hard to do. Personally, with the age of the boys and young men involved in scouting, I don’t want their leaders talking to them about sex, no matter what their personal orientation.

76 Tommy C February 9, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Another Eagle scout chiming in. Great article, shame for the comments at the bottom. Per Brett’s request, maybe we can take this to the forum? I didn’t notice anyone else posting a discussion, so here is one we can take this to for more off topic discussion:
http://community.artofmanliness.com/forum/topics/bsa-standards-discrimination

77 Matt Wolfgang (Eagle Scout '04) February 9, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Thanks for posting this Brett! A great organization and what taught me many of the skills I have today.

But I really do have to give a shout out to my parents (active leaders) and all the other awesome men (and women as my mother wasn’t the only female assistant scoutmaster/Troop Committee member in our troop) that spent so much of their time investing in my life and the lives of all of my buddies. They were what made the program so effective and what got me interested in and actually taught me all of the skills that I learned. All of the above conversation aside, if you want to make a difference in helping turn boys into men, get involved and help lead. They need you, as that 16/17 year old SPL isn’t going to learn how to lead until someone teaches him!

78 Troy February 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Thank you for a great article on Boy Scouting.

I am an Eagle Scout, class of ’84. I am currently a scoutmaster. My sons are scouts. My wife is a den leader. My daughter and younger sons are in a sibling patrol.

I was the National Eagle Scout of the Year in 1988. I am who I am largely because of Boy Scouts.

Contrary to what some people want to believe, homosexuality and atheism are not manly. If the Boy Scouts were to falter in their positions regarding these matters, I would wash my hands of it and walk away. Kudos to the National Council for standing firm in these time-tested beliefs. These virtues of Godliness and manliness ARE NOT antiquated, bigoted, or any other epithet modern, brainwashed, wimpy, maligning, everybody-gets-a-trophy, everybody-should-feel-good-about-whatever-they-want-to-be, mama’s boys want to throw at us.

The simple fact of the matter is that the BSA is a private organization. If you don’t fit the standards, then don’t join. If you think it’s acceptable for men to act as women, or for men to deny their Creator, then you don’t want what scouting teaches, and scouting doesn’t want what you espouse, either. If you simply want to learn to tie knots with your atheist, homosexual partner, well, go check out a library book on the topic and knock yourselves out.

Like every other person on the planet, I’m made to feel uncomfortable in many places (including public universities in my case) because of my beliefs. I’m excluded from many organizations because of my standards. I’m sorry, but everything is not for everybody, regardless of what you were taught by your godless, feminist, commie, hippie professor, or what Oprah’s latest guru has promoted.

As for public money: keep it. My troop does not use a nickel of any money not earned by the scouts themselves or donated by individuals. Anyone who argues that the BSA receives public money has a lopsided definition of the phrase anyway; they typically blather on about tax exempt statuses and the like.

If you are opposed to the BSA for maintaining its righteous stances, then the shame is on you, not on the BSA. If you’re one in this category, I’m very frankly thoroughly disgusted with the morals you’re trying to foist on me and my organization. If you want to teach boys that homosexuality is just another wonderful lifestyle, then form your own youth organization. Good luck with achieving the success and longevity of the Boy Scouts of America, though.

79 Greg M February 10, 2010 at 12:10 am

The two most formative experiences of my youth were Boy Scouts and martial arts. Of all my accomplishments, I am most proud of earning the rank of Eagle Scout and blackbelt.
Both activities filled my life with experiences and knowledge that I use daily.

Scout meetings were held at the same time as MacGuyver, so I would rush home from meetings to watch the episode on videotape. Scouting and MacGuyver, can’t get more manly than that! Perhaps this is why I’m the perpetual go-to guy both at work and in the neighborhood.

80 caleb February 10, 2010 at 1:12 am

Scouting was one of the best experiences of my life. As a result, I have devoted my life to helping and mentoring teens, including entering ministry.

Throughout the years that I was in the BSA as a youth member, i was completely unaware of most of the controversy. The thing that annoyed me was some elements of the uniforms, but thankfully they have updated them in the past 3 years, this time being designed with input form scouts rather than a fashion designer, so they are actually comfortable and useful in the outdoors.

There are a few values that Scouting stands on which may not be popular with everyone. Typically, when you are doing something that takes dedication and hard work, it won’t always be easy or popular, otherwise everyone would do it. I learned more things by the time I was 14 than most people I know have learned in their lifetimes. Just as a result of these experiences I am often the go-to guy for the most unusual situations. People know what I have have gone through and want to take advantage of it themselves.

Yes, there have been bad experiences. That happens with anything. Compare the ratios of bad experiences in Scouting that of any public school system in America.

Not stating where my personal beliefs are on the more controversial issues and respecting that people have the freedom to make their own decisions and all that, it is very refreshing to see a group that has set their values and stuck with it for so long, especially in light of how most everything else has changed over the years. I love the fact that the values my dad learned in the 60s are the same values i learned in the 90s. The program has shifted a bit here and there to reflect changing technology, culture, etc, and unfortunately took a few steps further from the outdoors than I prefer (though it usually comes back every 15 years or so), but i learned more about leadership there than I did in various job environments, as well as seminary. There has constantly been pressures to change for this or that throughout the years. The movement is currently at it’s largest, largely due to the fact that the values are clearly defined in a world where everything is fuzzy.

I happen to like a good steak. I haven’t gone out and joined PETA and started railing against them or tried to change them. I disagree, but this is as vocal of a statement as I will ever make against them. If you don’t like the BSA, don’t join. But please don’t try to prevent a group from standing up for what they believe in and trying to make our country and world a better place the best way that they can. You will never be forced to join or support the group. Get out there, and do what you can to make a difference.

In my estimation, 95% + of what the BSA stands for are values that most people on this site ( and a lot of the values this site is devote to trying to bring back) and most Americans believe in (character, honesty, community, personal value, hard work, leadership, problem solving, positive influence, loyalty, helpfulness, kindness and courtesy, cleanliness, preparedness, service to others, personal responsibility, physical fitness, etc). Why is it so hard to focus on these aspects? I don’t think I agree with 95% of hardly anything (when my wife and I have discretionary spending, we don’t even come close to that level of agreement!)!

Thanks Brett and Harry!

Caleb
Eagle 1997
current ASM for a struggling troop

81 Frank February 10, 2010 at 6:20 am

I support the BSA’s right to have whatever stance or beliefs they wish. I take issue with the celebration of an organization that has at the institutional level exclusionary and bigoted beliefs. Likewise, I take issue with the fact that as such an institution, the BSA receives public funds.

The fact that Troy above was supposedly the “National Scout of the Year” is truly a poor reflection on the BSA, but a reflection of the kinds of views embraced by the institution. Such close-minded views are not manly, and not worthy of celebration.

Troy: If you really understood the history or the organization, you would learn that religion was never forced or believed “necessary” by the founder Baden-Powell. Rather, it was encouraged. Globally, most affiliates of the parent institution, are either secular, or at most only suggest seeking out an individual’s religious beliefs. Conversely, the BSA has become a bit of a renegade offshoot, REQUIRING a belief in a higher power.

Regardless of what you are trying to infer, excluding people based on their religious beliefs or sexual orientation,is by definition bigoted. It is also antiquated, as there is no place in modern society for such close-minded exclusion.

So you believe in a “creator.” Great, I think your beliefs should be protected. But so too should the beliefs of those who don’t share your view. Citizenship, respect, honesty, service, self-sufficiency, outdoors skills, et cetera have nothing to do with religious beliefs. If you need a belief in a god to guide you, then it is great you have recognized that, but it has nothing to do with other valuable scouting skills except at the individual personal level – where religious beliefs should remain.

You talk about “blather[ing] on about tax exempt statutes,” but do you understand what that means? Do you think that people and organizations should pay their fair share in taxes? Most people do. Do you believe that your troop has not taken any public money? It has – both at the local and national level. When you have sales drives, your troop ordinarily would have to pay taxes on those funds as income. Your local troop gets those taxes back because it is charitable institution. Same goes for the national organization, except that it also gets additional funds from the government in the forms of grants and free use of certain public lands and facilities. Also, individuals are encouraged to give donations to the scouts, via the tax deductions they receive for such contributions. This too is a form of public money (the tax deduction). All told, that is a large sum of public money.

Homosexuality is not a lifestyle, anymore than heterosexuality is a lifestyle. Did you choose to be straight? No, you are what you are, and no one is oppressing you for it, so why do you feel the need to oppress others? There is nothing to teach, only individual differences that need be protected. You can teach whatever you want, and I believe in your right to do so. But teaching boys to hate, and exclude others because of narrow-minded beliefs, does not make them manly.

Nonetheless, you have done a fine job of representing the BSA as a hateful and ignorant institution, and your post has been the best argument yet for NOT celebrating the state of the BSA after 100 years.

82 mrsc2one February 10, 2010 at 7:40 am

Some of the haters of BSA seem to be missing a very important fact. The BSA is a PRIVATE institution. Gay men have NAMBLA and atheist have HOLLYWOOD so why not leave the rest of Americans alone to join whatever private organization they feel best represents their lives.

83 CoffeeZombie February 10, 2010 at 11:17 am

“I support the BSA’s right to have whatever stance or beliefs they wish. I take issue with the celebration of an organization that has at the institutional level exclusionary and bigoted beliefs.”

If we’re not allowed to celebrate an organization that, overall, does a lot of good and has played an important part in the lives of many of our readers because it house a couple policies that are offensive to some of our other readers, then we might as well just say we’re not allowed to celebrate anyone.

Robert E. Lee has come up on the site at times as an example of an admirable man. He had many qualities worth emulating. Yet, on the other hand, he owned slaves. Certainly, no one here approves of slavery, and I can’t imagine any of us would be willing to write an article for AoM defending Lee’s owning of slaves. Nevertheless, we honor the good things about the man, and acknowledge that he wasn’t perfect (none of us is).

And he’s not alone. How many people in our country consider Thomas Jefferson to have been a great man? He is certainly honored among Americans, yet he was also a slaveowner (and certain people exist as proof of her, err, illicit relations with some of his slaves).

There was a post, recently, on Greek philosophy. The Greeks, including these philosophers, held views about women that we would find utterly unacceptable today, yet no one complained about celebrating their achievements (and many complaints were levied against the article, the majority, I think, justified).

The list could go on. The point is, we all know about the BSA’s exclusion (technically, if not practically) of athiests and homosexuals. We all know that many people consider this bigoted (and, apparently, some do not). Those of you who insist that we cease our celebration of the good the organization has done because of these policies are not really any different from someone who would show up at a concert being given in memory of Freddie Mercury and use every chance they get to tell people that they shouldn’t honor Mercury because he was a homosexual.

84 mike February 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

I’m an adult scout leader and father of two eagle scouts. Scouting has done more for my family than any other organization or influence. My sons are strong, well rounded, independent and tolerant because of scouting. They had hiked across the New Mexico desert, sea kayaked up the N Carolina coast, canoed in N Minnesota, scuba dove in the Florida Keys and hiked across Isle Royale before they were eighteen, and I got to do it with them. Scouting will influence their entire life. My oldest son is one year into a Coast Guard enlistment and is currently stationed on a cutter patrolling the Bering Sea. He said being in the Coast Guard was just like continuing on with Boy Scouts, he’s just building on the Boy Scout skills he started learning in Tiger Cubs in first grade. My youngest son is on delayed enlistment for the Coast Guard, when he graduates he’ll be heading off to basic. My wife and I are extremely proud to see our sons turning into responsible men.

I had a brief experience with scouting in the seventies and wasn’t impressed, the current organization is infinitely improved.

Scouts do not teach that homosexuality is wrong, it isn’t even mentioned. Actively gay adults are not acceptable as leaders and sexually active youth are discouraged. Sexually active gay men can find some other outlet for their philanthropic activities, say big brothers or girl scouts if they like, scouting isn’t about them, its about the boys and girls. Yes, scouts have the coed venturing organization for youth aged 16 to 21. I may point out that it is illegal for youth under 18 to be sexually active.

Boy Scouting is a religious organization, but not strictly Christian. Scouts may be Christian, Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu, Jewish, LDS, Wikkan, whatever. Scouts do not discriminate based on religion, they simply require that the individual subscribe to some religious philosophy.

If you are keeping your sons from experiencing scouts because you perceive scouting to be closed minded or homophobic you may be doing them a grave disservice and you are certainly providing a good example of closed mindedness. We have boys of different races, faiths and levels of ability in our troop and our boys are the most tolerant boys I have ever seen. In our scout meeting you might see a high school senior, straight A student, star quarterback scout helping a junior high scout with severe disabilities with rank advancement. The boys build relationships that will last a lifetime. Visit some troops or packs with your sons to see what it’s like. If you don’t like the people in one troop, try another. They’re all different and there’s a troop for everyone.

85 Brad Evans February 10, 2010 at 8:09 pm

How many boys (males under 18) are there from Mainline Protestant and Reformed Jewish traditions (the groups most tolerant of gays) compared to Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, conservative Protestants, Muslims and Mormons? All those “progressive” groups combined make up about 5.5% of the US population under 26 years of age. How many Hispanic Catholics, Black Baptists or white Mormon parents are seriously concerned about allowing gays into their boys’ troops or Cub Packs compared to WASP Episcopalians or Unitarians? Compare the birth rates of Hispanics, African-Americans or Mormons with Mainline Protestants and other groups that want the Scouts to change. Mainline Protestantism has decreased its share of the US population from about 40% in the mid-Sixties to about 17% today; the median age of the Mainline Protestant churches ranges from 53-61 and it’s going up every year. The percentage of Catholics, Hispanics, African-Americans, Muslims and Mormons is either holding steady or increasing sharply.
Why should the Scouts change? They can count.
The atheist/agnostic issue is different; the fastest growing segment of the US’s religious picture is “None of the Above”. At about one-sixth of the total, they make up nearly one-fourth of those 15-40 years old and they’re increasing with every census. So here is one area in which the Scouts will probably make adjustments, at least in individual groups.

86 meg February 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm

i’m not “manly” – as a female subscriber – but i think it’s really strange how many comments seem to associate homosexuality with pedophilia. like most grown straight men, most grown gay men don’t find cub scouts to be a turn-on.

87 Brad Evans February 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

The Scouts themselves did a study in the mid-70s that explicitly stated that gays were no more likely than straights to be threats to children.
My guess is that there are gays involved in Scouts, both as youth and adults, known to those in their groups who don’t care about it.
Canada’s scouts seem to have declined very rapidly, even with official tolerance for both gays and atheists/agnostics; this would seem to disprove the thesis that allowing gays/atheists into US scouting would slow down American scouting’s decline or even reverse it.

88 Sir Lancelot February 11, 2010 at 6:06 am

“Did you choose to be straight?”

I do choose what I do with my sexual organs, though.

89 CoffeeZombie February 11, 2010 at 10:28 am

@meg A couple points:

1) Most grown straight men would not be attracted to young men, no. That’s because they’re straight. They might, however, be attracted to young women. Homosexual men, likewise, would not be attracted to young women, but they might be attracted to young men.

If you want to compare the possible danger of straight scout leaders to homosexual scout leaders, you need to compare apples to apples. So, let’s rephrase your argument:

“Like most grown straight men don’t find brownie scouts to be a turn on, most homosexual men don’t find cub scouts to be a turn on.”

2) Scouting doesn’t just involved cub scouts (age range: 7-10), it also involved boy scouts (age range: 11-18), which is most directly the focus of the article.

3) The definition of pedophilia is a sexual preference for prepubescent children.

In other words, an adult male who finds a 16-year-old girl sexually attractive is not a pedophile; at 16, she is most likely already sexually mature, and in many societies would be considered old enough to marry and begin bearing children (in fact, in my State, 16-year-olds can marry if they have parental consent…however, if the bride is already pregnant, they can marry without parental consent).

An adult male, on the other hand, who finds a 6-year-old girl sexually attractive is a pedophile.

Likewise, and adult male who finds a 16-year-old boy attractive is not a pedophile. An adult male who finds a 6-year-old boy attractive is.

4) Of course, most of us still consider it wrong for an adult to have sexual relations with a sexually mature minor. Generally, this is because we consider the minor to be vulnerable to the adult’s advances owing to their immaturity (mentally and emotionally).

And so, just as most people would, I think, be uncomfortable about putting their brownies or girl scouts in a troop led by a straight man, most parents would, I think, be similarly uncomfortable with putting their cub or boy scouts in a troop led by a homosexual man.

Finally, on what basis do you make your claim that “most” straight men and “most” gay men don’t find cub scouts to be a turn-on? How many of them have you talked to, and do you know for sure they were being honest (I suspect that, regardless of orientation, most people would not be very inclined to admit, even to themselves, if they were pedophiles)? Or are you basing off a study?

90 prufock February 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Discussing Scouts, it becomes clear that it’s one of those things where the good and the bad are a package deal. They DO engage in a lot of good, both in teaching the members and by community presence. Alas, it’s tarnished by a few antiquated policies that aren’t at all manly.

I’m sure that in some ways Scouts does build character. Much of this character probably does help to make better men, at least for some. But then, we get cases like Eagle Scout and Troy above – if THAT is the kind of “character” Scouts builds, we’d be better off without it. I’m hesitant to apply the label “hatred” to the Scouts as a whole, though.

Luckily, it seems that there is some flexibility in these policies, at least in practice.

I think there would be less objection to Scouts’ policies if there were a visible alternative that applied the positive aspects of Scouts without the exclusionary policies. There are alternatives, but none that have the scope or brand power of Scouts.

91 BIG Dan February 12, 2010 at 12:28 am

Thank you for the scouting post. I was in the scouts from tiger cubs all the way through to Eagle Scout. I feel that scouting has taught me more life/ manly skills than anything else I have ever undertaken. I have also built friendships that will last a lifetime. It is an organization and I would encourage every father to enroll his son in it.

92 BIG Dan February 12, 2010 at 12:40 am

I would also like to add that I am pro gay-rights and do not agree with the BSA’s position, but it is their right as a private club to exclude whomever they wish. Also, don’t judge all scouts or all of scouting by some of the ultra right-wing, close-minded viewpoints posted here. The scouts I know are very open-minded, well-rounded individuals and are productive members of society.

93 Jake February 12, 2010 at 2:02 am

Thank you for this. It has reminded me that I need to give back. On a side note anyone, yes anyone, who lives up to the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan deserve commendation.

94 Angela February 12, 2010 at 11:40 am

Scouts units – Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, Venturing Crews, Varsity Teams, and Explorer Posts – are owned by Chartered Organizations and run by volunteers. Some volunteers are better than others – unfortunately the bad apple principle is at play in the BSA just like anywhere else. Some peoples best is better than others.

My husband and I are very involved with our two younger sons Cub Scout Pack. We have a Scout who has two mommies and they have been in our pack for 2 years. They don’t have their son in Cub Scouts because of what it isn’t or what it doesn’t allow BUT for what it does stand for and what their son will get from the experience – they have chosen the greater good for their son. I do the same thing with my husband everyday and him with me – neither of us is perfect and we have to accept that nothing in life is, but that doesn’t me we toss each other out because of what might be perceived by some as fatal flaws. The BSA scales tip more to the good than any negative that has been stated here.

Also, do you hear about people being ticked off that the Knights of Columbus has specific religious membership requirements (gotta be a practicing Catholic)? Or the Elks Lodge who also has a religions component to their membership (gotta believe in God)? Or how about organizations that have educational requirements – are they discriminating against those of lesser intelligence or those without the finances to pay for that education? The BSA only asks that you believe in a god – no matter what you call him or her – be it Buddha or Jehovah or Allah or God. Belief in a higher power is not a bad thing, so even if it’s not for you that’s fine – there are other private organizations of which you can be a member.

PRIVATE organizations are just that, private. Find one you like, start your own, or just let them be – why does anyone have to spend precious time tearing a group down when they could be using that time to help others.

It seems to me that people want something that Scouting has but don’t want it to come with a price or strings attached. Many in our society have come to think that they deserve anything they want no matter what. Real sacrifice is becoming rarer and rarer. It’s easy to give of your excess but when was the last time you ate hot dogs instead of steak and gave the difference in cost away? When was the last time you skipped the Super Bowl to work at a soup kitchen? When was the last time you spent your vacation building a house for Habitat? When was the last time you fasted for 24 hours and slept in a cardboard box to see what it was like to be homeless? These are things my Scout children have done in the last year – as a part of Scouting.

We all have to look inward at the end of each day and ask “Have I done my best today, have I made the world a better place, have I done a good deed today?”

That is what is at the heart of Scouting where I come from.

95 Charley February 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I am an Eagle Scout, and during my scouting days spent time in four troops on 3 continents. What’s most unfortunate to me about all the controversy surrounding the BSA’s policies on atheists and homosexual leaders is that it has so little relation to any actual Scout’s experiences. None of these things are ever mentioned in the Scout handbook – sure there are religious badges to be earned (quite a wide array of them, too), but they’re not required for any rank. Sex is quite rightly never brought up (at least not by the adults. Get a room full of teenage boys together and it’s pretty much inevitable…). Both these policies are essentially political decisions made by BSA management, and have absolutely no effect on the (in my case, very positive) actual experience of scouting and the many useful lessons it can teach a young man.
A person’s experience with scouting will depend mostly on the leaders and the fellow scouts he finds himself with – a well-led troop, with involved parents and scouts and good leaders (both adult and young man) will teach good lessons. A poorly run troop, like any poorly run organization, will not. And that’s that. Your experience with scouting (or your son’s) should not depend on religion, sexual orientation or any other personal factors, of the scout, the parents, or the troop leaders. If it does, try a different troop.

96 Matthew (Eagle Scout) February 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm

When I was 8 years old I found a bunch of my dad’s old scout stuff in my grandma’s house.
He sat me down and told me all about it, and I told him I wanted to join too. He never made it to Eagle, his troop disbanded when he was only a star scout.
But then after I went to the first Webelos meeting he sat me down and asked me if I still wanted to join. Before I could answer, he told me that if I joined I’d have to stay with it, no matter what until I made Eagle Scout or turned 18.
Yes, my father made an 8 year old boy commit to ten years of scouting or attaining something that few boys would ever achieve.

I attained my ranks quickly, getting to Life Scout at the age of 13 (just shy of my 14th birthday) and then pretty much stopped. I still attended every meeting as my dad made me promise, but just stopped caring, I’d gotten into being a young punk lost and confused in the myrid of being a high school student. Even though there were times I hated it, Scouting kept me grounded. Every week I would see a bunch of older kids and adults would get a progress report from me on my Eagle project and ask me why I wasn’t going on the campouts. They actually gave a damn about a punk kid who just didn’t.

I eventually pulled my head out of my behind and started actually working on my Eagle. 6 days before my eighteenth birthday, four years to the day of getting Life, I held my scoutmaster’s conference and became an Eagle Scout. Since then I’ve joined the military and am a well rounded adult, putting myself through self study, hustling to become the man I want to be.

Will my children be in scouting? That is an unequivical yes. An emphatic yes. And I will sit my son down just as my Dad did with me and make a promise.

The Navy Core values are Honor, Courage and Commitment. I began learning these when I was just a little boy, then confirmed them when I was becoming a young man. Scouting taught me all of these things, and it is because of scouting that I am who I am. Now I’m a grown man, looking for a troop to do some good in. I’m in an area that I’m unfamiliar with and don’t know the council or any of the districts, but believe me when I say it’s not hard to get plugged in, you just have to have to inititave.

About the politics, shut up. ALL of you. I don’t care about the “national stance” on any of it. I’ve never known a gay leader to get kicked out of a troop and I’ve known gay leaders. And I’m from the southern midwest. So just shut up about it all. Scouting grows young men. It developes tomorrows leaders. Scouting teaches all of our real values, skills and priorities. What Scouting doesn’t teach is your stupid politics and habits of following trends produced by the media. If you don’t want your kid being in scouts, that’s fine, but HE is missing out, and you’re already lost.

97 G. Alphonse Menard February 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm

While I was never a Boy Scout (I chose to play travel soccer instead), I really wish I had joined. Once I settle down and have a real job, I plan to become involved with the local council because I love the outdoors and the positive message the Scouts have for today’s youth. Also, the Knights of Columbus councils are often affiliated with scouts, and I was glad that our council recently re-approved funding for the local cub scout troop.

98 Shawn M. Ford February 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Thank you very much Tyro Prate for leaving a breif phrase, not even a complete sentence and thus poured gasoline on the whole article lit the match and walked away. Way to “man up” Tyro, way to stick to your principles and justify your response.

Scouting has been an intricate part of my life since I was six and a Tiger Cub. I earned my Eagle at 18, went on to college, worked at Scout camp for one year and met my wife there, (she only dated Eagle Scouts), we started a Venturing Crew while in college then when graduated I was employed by the BSA as a District Executive, couple of years later my wife joined me as a DE as well. Scouting is a big part of my family and who I am. The traditional values and charater building that goes on has shaped many a youth and will continue to do so for another 100 years. Thank you for writing such a fine article.

99 Martin February 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I was a cub scout, weeblo, and boy scout. Boy Scout camp was one of the great experiences of my life.

100 Jared P March 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I loved scouting! I did cub scouts, but got kind of bored with it. I went back in around 7th grade in Boy Scouts and came away with my eagle! I think you can learn so much about a lot of things in Boy Scouts. It teaches you a lot of life lessons and skills that you may have never known. I worked at the camps, volunteered to work the JLT courses (Foxfire in the BRMC). Wow, it’s amazing to think back on it now…

My son will definitely be in the scouts

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