Sunday, May 26, 2013

What I Learned In Boy Scouts

I learned an awful lot from being a Boy Scout and earning the rank of Eagle Scout. I learned the importance of service, and doing the right thing without expectation of praise or reward. I learned that I could surpass my own expectations and the value of leaving my comfort zone. I learned leadership skills that I call on to this very day. I learned the value of being prepared and self sufficiency.

I learned nothing about sex.

Sex and sexuality was simply a topic that never came up.

What qualities make for an excellent adult Scout Leader? He or she should be patient enough to allow kids to play with fire, knives and guns, yet safety conscious enough to keep them blowing themselves up, slicing off a limb or shooting out an eye. The best scout leaders I had the privilege of knowing could tell wonderful stories and serve as role models and cared deeply for the children in their care.

Not once did the home life of an adult leader come up. In most cases, I'm not sure I could tell you if the leader was single or married. It didn't matter for our purposes.

Given this experience, you can appreciate the confusion and anger I feel towards the Boy Scouts of America for their decision to make sexual orientation of leaders and scouts a criteria for membership.

At best, this practice limits the pool of boys and adults who can participate in Scouting. This is dangerous because the members of a troop, both Scouts and leaders, greatly impact the quality of experience of those involved. In short, you need the best boys and the best leaders to have a great Scouting experience.

At worst, this practice sows the seeds of bigotry and intolerance among its members. After all, how else should a 12 year boy interpret the ruling that says that his Dad can't participate in Scouting because his other parent is also a Dad?

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay boys to participate in Scouts. Good, but nearly good enough. If they were truly serious about the values that go into making a good Scout, they would allow gay leaders to participate. Enough said.


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  2. Wade Johnston12:38 PM

    I was also a Scout growing up and I've carried the leadership skills I learned in scouts through my adult life. I will probably not enroll my sons in Scouts due to their bigoted policy and the wrong example it sets.

    I'm more saddened than angry, both at the poor example they're showing, and that I can't in good faith support an organization that meant to much to me growing up.