The flag pole leaned over in the winds of heavy opposition of a biased few, but finally the Boy Scouts of America fortified their position as an organization bent on the moral rights and character of today’s youths.
Last Saturday, I attended a training session in Kansas City to review various changes made in the standards governing all summer camps.
For the past decade, I have been a member of a team who visits the summer camps of the various councils located in the Central area. The Standards, as they are called, are a set of rules and goals a council must achieve by way of review before they can open their camp for the summer session.
The overall purpose of this assessment is to provide continuity between all camps so the Scouts and their leaders know what to expect during their week in camp, no matter where they go. We are known as the Camp Assessment Team under the National Camp Accreditation Program.
Every few years or so, the national organization upgrades and reviews all their policies. With 35 camps and an average of five adult scouters on a team, this makes up a fairly large group of volunteers.
We cover such areas as: health and safety, food services, preparation and storage, drinking water, fire protection, toilets and showers, camper security, access and egress control and everything in between.
The goal is for the boys (and girls) to have fun and learn in a controlled environment.
One thing that was a first this year was a certificate of child abuse or neglect/criminal record.
Considering the current onslaught of groups wanting to destroy any organization that has any crack in their foundation, I’m surprised the BSA has not thought of this sooner. The public schools have had this policy for years so it was little trouble for me to have a copy made of one that has been maintained since I started mentoring five years ago.
In all my 50-plus years in Scouting, the thought of someone’s sexual preference has never entered my mind. I have been all over the world attending Scouting events and have seen many different kinds of social customs — boys holding hands, leaders greeting you with a two-armed hug, kissing on the cheek — but never have I felt threatened or forced into their customs.
On the other hand if I did have a leader in my troop come to me and tell me he was an atheist, I would be forced to have him removed from my jurisdiction. How can a person recite the Scout Oath, “Do your duty to God …” if you do not believe there is a God?
In the mid-1970s, Judy and I were co-advisors to a co-ed Explorer Post sponsored by our church. We had an equal number of boys and girls or should I say young adults. We went cycling, canoeing, boating and hiking. Most times, we camped overnight in tents (separately, of course) and had no problems whatsoever with these activities.
The National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts finally revised their membership standard. I’m going to print it here in its entirety because I think it’s too important an issue to take anything out of context:
“Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God) and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
So what has changed? Fortunately, nothing. The basic principals of Scouting have withstood the test and the flagpole of building character in our youths today can continue to fly the flag proudly. I think if the people who are so quick to judge would put down their banners and placards and help to fix the situations, we would all be better off.