Boy Scouts Lost in the Woods, Need a Spirit Guide

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans  The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are fast joining the ranks of the Susan Komen for the Cure Foundation in how NOT to manage internal debate and decisions when your institution has been captive to far right, conservative forces and you have surrendered to them.  The long awaited national board meeting when the BSA was finally going to break the chains and open the doors to all interested boys, rather than continuing to cripple the organization and make a mockery of their own values as an exclusive, shrinking, and ideological club came and went with no decision, prolonging the agony and divisiveness of the organization.  When it came time to find their way out of the woods, the scouts totally lost their way.

There is no way around the conclusion that the Boy Scouts are not a place that can claim to develop leadership for young men or anyone else.  The process they are putting on display seems to mostly about inept communication and chaotic followership.  Having at best already determined disappointedly as a national body that the way to handle the question of gay youth and adult participation was to abandon their responsibilities and push the decision down to the local councils, it seems to be increasingly clear that the BSA leads no one, but is captive to its own chartering sponsors largely among the various religious denominations.

What a terrible vicious circle they have constructed!   We now have the absurdity of meeting space trumping mission for the BSA.  Having come out of a troop meeting in a Methodist church closest to my home and my son’s troop sponsored by the Presbyterians, I can remember the meetings of both troops where they discussed whether they would continue to be tolerated and allowed use of the facilities since there were so few participants from either congregation involved at any level.  These charters were “name only,” but now reading about the thousands of charters in various denominations they have become pawns in this power game.  Why am I surprised since the BSA’s embrace of discrimination in recent years has locked them out of public spaces that once were more popular in schools, parks, and recreation centers?  You can’t have it both ways, so when the BSA ran to the right for cover in the conservative clutch, they become more captive than cause.

“Be prepared” is going to become the watchword for a joke, since now the leadership explains after they put off a decision that they never meant to go this route.  They claim it was all supposed to be on the “down low,” just a quite conversation with a lot of hems, haws, and maybes.  Someone leaked it, they claim.  “Be prepared” is for someone else perhaps, maybe the boys, if they still believe any of this stuff.  The bosses of the BSA seem to be trying to prove the old Peter Principle that incompetence can find its way to the top in any organization.  This is all just so sad.

The boys need a spirit guide.  Someone who can remind them of the Oath, the motto, and what it might have once meant to really build confidence, competence, values, and leadership through the Boy Scouts of America.  This troop is lost, and seems now not worth the effort to find.