In what appears to be yet another nail in the coffin of a once venerable organization, the Boy Scouts of America this week announced that it was dropping the word “Boy” from its name. Going forward, they would be known simply as “Scouting BSA.”
I sat stunned as I heard the news, because this affects our family on a personal level. We’ve been Scouts for nearly 70 years. My grandfather was a Scoutmaster, my father is an Eagle Scout, I’m an Eagle Scout, and so are all three of our sons. For four generations, the principles of Scouting have been synonymous with the principles by which our family lived. I never considered the Scout oath and law to be mere words on a page. They were always principles, that if followed, would lead to a life well-lived: a life of honor, service, dependability, and good citizenship.
For those who may not know, the purpose of Scouting is not to produce skilled campers. It’s to produce skilled leaders. The outdoors is just a venue to teach character and leadership skills. Now it seems that after 108 years, Scouting has run its course. It began with lawsuits and boycotts in the ‘80s by politically correct companies like Levi Strauss. Scouts were under pressure to allow atheists and homosexuals into their ranks. They survived the legal challenges, but the loss of corporate sponsors was another matter. In 2014, they capitulated and allowed homosexual Scouts. The outcry was loud and sustained. Some of their corporate sponsors returned to the table, but others left in droves. They also lost scores of adult leaders, and many of the churches that acted as chartering organizations.
A close friend of mine who served on the national Board of Directors was there the night of the vote. Afterwards, he reminded the Board of Directors that the last line of the Scout oath says that a Scout will keep himself “morally straight.” My friend admonished the Board and ended his 42-year affiliation with Scouting on the spot. The following year, in a continued downward spiral, the Board voted to allow openly homosexual Scoutmasters, and the exodus from Scouting increased.
Now, just three years later, in an attempt to broaden their membership base, they are no longer to be known as the “Boy Scouts.” Sadly, I predict the hemorrhaging will continue until Scouting ceases to exist, which some would argue, was the politically left’s plan all along.
Our family has left Scouting, but we will never abandon those bedrock principals upon which the Boy Scouts was originally founded. Others feel the same way, and a new organization has sprung up to continue the process of building great leaders. It’s called Trail Life, U.S.A., and after just five short years, there are nearly 1,000 troops nationwide. While they’re not meant to be as an alternative to the Boy Scouts, the program and principles overlap nicely, and their goals can be summed up in three words: adventure, character and leadership.