I started in Scouting as a Cub Scout at the age of 7 and progressing through scouting into Webelos and then into Boy Scouts at age 11. I then spent the next seven years, acquiring merit badges, camping fishing, learning first aid, knots and how to handle myself and get along with others. It was a maturation process that was priceless. Along the way I mentored by one of the greatest men I ever met (Arthur Young Sr, our scoutmaster), made countless friends and learned to respect nature, myself and others.
I culminated my Boy Scout experience by achieving membership in The Order of the Arrow, which is Scouting’s Honor Roll and furthering that by earning the highest honor in Scouting and becoming an Eagle Scout.
And now they tell me after a two year study they will continue to deny membership to gay boys wanting to join?
Granted I have not been active in Scouting in over ten years due to some elitist policies and continued fallout from the sex abuse scandal they had.
But this is an outrage and I’m disgusted with this ruling and way Scouting has been headed the last decade or so.
Scouting is not for a chosen few or a country club membership. Scouting is rite of passage that I was honored to be a part of and made me the man I am today. It should not have discriminatory practices and a limit to who can join.
Who is to say what boys may or may not join and partake in the journey that has turned so many boys into men?
If Scouting had closed its doors to those of us of color in the previous generations, little boys like me from the hood would not have found their way to the woods, fishing spots, or other wonders of nature that aren’t obvious or close to us.
We would have not had to chance to learn how to deal with boys from areas we never would have visited, formed a relationship with God and make friendships for life.
We would have missed on precious mentoring from men who gave their time, money and resources to make us the next generation of men.
In the time since my active Scouting days, so many campgrounds have closed (Hoover in Yorkville), others have been reduced (Owasippe Scout Reservation in Blue Water Township Michigan), and many troops (including my own former troop 1792 in Calumet Park), have folded.
Scouting has hit hard times and there seems to be waning interest in Scouting and due to rulings like today it has garnered a negative reputation.
I admit even in my prime Scouting days in the 80’s & 90’s it was not very popular among peers to be involved in Scouting but our leaders used that as a tool for us to stand up for what we believe in and not always follow the crowd. It was tough sometimes, the teasing and unpopularity and this is at a time in a boy’s life where acceptance is king and peer pressure can be overwhelming but we managed through it and were better because of it.
I say this because there are many of us who gave our childhoods to this organization and were taught a different lesson than is being shown in this ruling.
I did spend some of my college years as an adult assistant in Scouting and things were changing, it had come out there was some sexual abuse going on. I remember having to attend a seminar in the late 90’s about abuse and we watched a movie and had to sign a waiver about it all. It seemed more legally binding than being in the best interest of the scouts.
And then in my area of the south side/south suburbs, the districts of how Scouting was organized was changed, including that of The Order Of The Arrow which had done so much good and we worked so hard for. It seemed more bureaucratic than anything. The more populous and wealthy areas got more resources and the areas that needed Scouting the most were left behind.
It left a bad taste in my mouth and I soon left Scouting since it seemed it was going in direction I did not want to follow and was against the beliefs II had been taught over the years.
And now ten years later I see it happening again.
Lord Baden Powell (the founder of American Scouting), would be ashamed at this ruling for Scouting teaches about nature and other life skills but the heart of it is to respect others, work together and to leave campsites and anywhere you touch BETTER than how you found it.