RE: “Boy Scouts of America to include girls” Thu Oct 12, Page A3
I love Scouting. I have never been accused of being cool. I remember Pack 656 meeting at Walnut Hill Elementary and how we would sell Krispy Kremes in uniform door-to-door on Saturday morning to raise money. From Bobcat through Webelos, Dad and I made great looking Pinewood Derby cars which were dreadfully slow. I remember busting my butt over the summer break to fulfill Lion requirements only to learn that BSA eliminated the Lion rank when I returned in the fall. I remember huddling with my Dad for warmth on a camporee to Prince William Forest Park when the temperature dipped unexpectedly.
I stuck with Scouts (Troop 877 also meeting at Walnut Hill) through light-hearted hazing as a Tenderfoot eventually reaching Life Scout before discovering girls and cars (and taking on adult responsibilities I was ill-prepared to tackle) and temporarily leaving it behind. One big regret is I didn’t stick it out to Eagle. A few merit badges and a project short of a stellar accomplishment, but I had my own mountains to climb at the time. I canoed lakes, slept beneath the stars, hiked the mountains of New Mexico and enjoyed numerous adventures making new friends along the way.
It was during these formative years, Dad succumbed to the bottle and was largely unavailable to me until young adulthood. Happily, he died sober working on his 32nd year of sobriety and was restored to me and our family. We all miss him terribly to this day.
During this crucial period, The Boy Scouts of America WAS MY FATHER.
Scoutmasters Colonel Blake and Ramon (Ray) Jones and numerous other men instilled in me faith, a love of country and taught me the values of citizenship, manhood and a sense of honor and right. More recently, I tried to share this with my sons serving myself as Assistant Cubmaster and Scoutmaster.
In the succeeding decades and since losing Dad, whenever faced with a social or moral dilemma I often think of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. They have NEVER failed me in providing a direction:
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.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Over the years, I have watched in horror and disbelief as the program I loved and depended on, has been diluted to the point that it is almost unrecognizable. Running from faith, running from truth, running from honor as the tail increasingly wags the dog. Apologizing for greatness.
Scouting never taught me exclusion, never taught me to hate. Quite the contrary. However, it did teach me to embrace differences and to celebrate them.
For years under attack by those threatened by the values historically taught in Scouting, BSA had withstood loss of funding from entities afraid to financially support an organization with such a “dinosaur” agenda. Instead of turning to private vs public sponsoring entities, perhaps providing a strong program to a smaller audience as opposed to a vain attempt to hold onto market share, BSA kowtowed to group-think over and over again.
The latest in a long line of bad decisions by BSA, is to allow young girls into Cub Scouts with a timeline to further integrate them into Scouting so that they can eventually earn an Eagle badge. This over the pleadings of the Girl Scouts of America (a program which has done a far better job holding onto its integrity) who have begged BSA not to go down this road.
This smacks of a board-driven business decision, a grab for a larger piece of the pie. Did I mention, I once made a lattice-crust cherry pie from scratch in a reflector oven on the top of a mountain? In fact, it was a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors to do so.
I no longer recognize you BSA. Shame on you for turning your backs on the young men of America.
Stu Megaw is a Santa Clarita resident raised in Falls Church, Va.