Scouting has been a large part of growing up for me. I joined the Cub Scouts as a “Webelos“. It’s an acronym meaning “We’ll Be Loyal Scouts.” A year later with the Arrow of Light I became a Boy Scout. I spent all of junior high and high school in the same troop. We had some pretty epic adventures as a troop. I can remember going out to FDR state park in the middle of winter and backpacking in the freezing rain. We hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in the state. We learned things like wilderness survival, first aid, and how to save a life of someone who was drowning. I had the privilege of being the senior patrol leader of the troop.
We were a cohesive bunch. Monday nights meant football, hanging out learning skills for merit badges, giving to those less fortunate, and talking about where the camping trip was that month. We stuck together. Many of us became Eagle Scouts because of our cohesion. I landed my first job out of college in software because of my Eagle Scout award. Scouting was about ethics, stewardship, and commitment.
Most of the skills I used in my 20’s as a camp staff member at a juvenile diabetes camp came from Scouting. I’ve taught kids how to row, canoe, swim across lakes, hike in the wilderness, and have the same appreciation for nature that Scouting gave to me.
This morning, I got an email from the Boy Scouts of America asking for my opinions on homosexuality with regards to Scouting. It was a survey that got the attention of The Denver Post, The New York Times, as well as CNN. They asked questions like:
Tom started in the program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?
They go on to ask different questions on the social comfort of having a gay person involved in a number of areas of Scouting. Scouting is about leadership and integrity in one’s community. The linked article from the Denver Post has the full list. This move to survey doesn’t come from the strength of Scouting. It panders to the loudest majority not necessarily doing what is right. Scouting is about exposing our youth to the outdoors. It gives them a respect, awareness, and reverence of nature.
This isn’t an issue about sexual orientation. It’s a ploy to stay with the status quo and be comfortable. Scouting is about doing what’s right for all kids. The scout law states:
A Scout is: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
For those at National HQ in Texas, it’s time to be brave and live out the ideals of our common background. Do the right thing and make scouting available for all kids.