What Happened to Be Prepared with the Scouts?

New Orleans       Trying to clean up the attic meant buying contractor bags.  Building out the attic had been a construction project over years that I had finally finished in time for my son to make this his room for some years until he left home.  He never quite got all of his stuff out and that was added to all of the valuable junk that heads for an attic because none of us can bear to make a decision about what should really happen to the old jacket, the broken chair, the this and that.

Out of ten bags going to Goodwill and Bridge House, I salvaged a bathing suit and a belt, he might still want.  I also kept a hooded sweatshirt he had abandoned that still might fit me that was emblazoned with Troop 150 Boy Scouts of America that he had taken to scores of camping trips during the year and what they called “super-trips” in the summer.  We matched the money he was required to raise, and he went to trips in Colorado, on the train to Chicago and then Montana, and the Tennessee Smokey Mountains.  His stints as quartermaster for his troop still make him the chief supply and storage man when we’re in the trailer in Wyoming or on any family trips.

I saw pictures of my brother and me as scouts all forty times I did Q&A’s for “The Organizer” last year.  Camping and the skills I learned in the scouts have stayed with me for a lifetime.  Being Eagle Scouts meant something to me, my son, and my brother.

Where in the Boy Scout handbook would I find filing for bankruptcy as the way to handle responsibilities for abuse of some boys by their scoutmasters or adult leaders?  Is that trustworthy?  Where in the pledge would I find the Boy Scouts in the middle of the culture wars, dithering rather than unable to be honest with their sponsors about not discriminating against boys of any shape, size or orientation?  You see where I’m going with this?

The Scouts are losing members like so many other institutions that might have seemed ageless in the past whether unions or the churches or other “clubs” like 4-H and Rotary.  Their membership has dropped 12% from 2012 to 2017, but they still have 2.3 million members, which is nothing shabby.  With some controversy and current litigation, they picked up 70,000 girls when they opened their doors to women, which, frankly, I thought was a good thing, especially in these days and times when it is ever more important to build – and improve – the character of young men.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Scouts claim assets of $1.5 billion with over $800 million in stocks, bonds, and other investments along with almost $500 million in land and buildings including the incomparable Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  They have some financial issues certainly, that might teach them some lessons for the future.

What happened to “be prepared.”  If they have some liabilities coming, they have the money it would seem to handle them fairly.  If they have some problems with the Girl Scouts, maybe they should start talking about a merger rather than a competition.

These are new days, but old values have meanings as well.  If the Scouts are going to continue to be relevant and occupy a special place in the future like they do for some of our memories of the past, then the Scouts should consult the oath first, and the lawyers last.

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What Could be Wrong about Boys and Girls Learning to Work Together?

Boy & Girl Scouts in Vietnam

Little Rock   There aren’t enough big issues in the world to fight about it seems, so just to give us something else to think about, the scouts thought it was important to get back in the news. Clearly it has become boring to learn camp craft, come to grips with nature, and learn to work together towards a goal, so taking a page from the front page controversy ignited by the recent flame throwing by President Trump at the Boy Scouts National Jamboree, the Girl Scouts didn’t feel they were getting enough press so they tossed a burst of napalm out there on their own.

Seems the head of the Girl Scouts went after her counterpart with both barrels. According to the Times,

…in a blistering letter this week, the president of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. accused Boy Scouts of America of trying to undercut the organization through a “covert campaign to recruit girls.” The letter became public…, laying bare an exceptional and surprising fissure in what had been an amicable relationship between two ubiquitous organizations. “I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts,” Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the president of the Girl Scouts, wrote to her counterpart, Randall Stephenson of the Boy Scouts. Ms. Hopinkah Hannan added, “It is therefore unsettling that B.S.A. would seek to upend a paradigm that has served both boys and girls so well through the years.”

Both of them are big corporate whoops, the boy scout is the head of AT&T and the girl scout is a managing partner at the big auditing firm KPMG, so the incident as quickly became about their companies as about scouting, so that everyone would know what was really important about all of this.

So the girl scout apologized after the boy scout tattled to her boss at KPMG, and the boy scouts swear they are just talking, not poaching, but who cares, you might ask? Both have about a million members and both are losing membership over recent years. The Boy Scouts already allow girls in their older teens program called Venturing, and I’ll bet there are more chaperons than venturers at some of those events.

My brother-in-law told me a story about his son’s Boy Scout Troop where he had been an assistant scoutmaster. The sister of one of the troop came to all of the meetings, camp outs, and participated in all of the events with her brother and the rest of the boys. When her brother became 18 and mustered out, receiving his last award, their troop gave his sister a special award as well, since she had been an unofficial member and one of their scouts too in everything but uniform.

What’s the harm, one way or another? Might be a better thing for everyone in the country if boys and girls learned how to do things collectively, especially in the great outdoors. The only clear takeaway recently is that we need to keep President Trump away from the Scouts, and maybe Wall Street and big businesses ought to avoid the Scouts as well, until all of them learn to behave, and let the boys and girls and their parents work it out themselves for the good of everyone involved.

***

Please enjoy the Foo Fighters – The Sky is a Neighborhood.

Thanks to KABF.

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