In light of the recent events at the Boy Scout Jamboree, I would like to defend and celebrate the Boy Scouts of America. It has been an honor to serve as a parent leader in our local troop and to witness the bonding, skill building, and leadership undertaken by our boys. My son has taken risks, overcome fears, and both led and served his fellow scouts.
Likeswise, scout parents have inspired and molded me. I count them among my closest friends and value them as civic leaders. Our nation can learn a lot from the BSA and the culture that surrounds its path to excellence.
I have attended summer camps and powwows and have witnessed the diverse personalities and backgrounds of the boys who have locked arms across our nation. Indeed, I have watched the BSA emerge as an inclusive organization.
There are scouts of color and different religions, scouts faced with physical challenges, and scouts investigating gender identity. Some are outgoing, others gentle. Some love archery while others adore chess. But their link is a common dedication to living the Scout Oath and climbing together that noble Trail to Eagle.
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In this light, I found the president’s rally troubling. Rather than inspiring diverse and dedicated future leaders, he used crass language, led partisan chants and painted the United States as a cesspool. Rather than praising these boys for embracing a common noble purpose, he used the forum to condemn politicians and legislation. Put bluntly, he took advantage of this extraordinary event to crudely project his own political agenda.
Scouting is not a political faction. Its genius is that it leads boys of all backgrounds to hone callings and apply them to family and fellow man. I have proudly attended Eagle ceremonies of Democrats and Republicans alike.
But to anyone outside of scouting, this speech sent a clear message: “Don’t like my views? Then scouting isn’t for you.”
I disagree. Scouting wants the athletic and physically challenged, the Christian and the Muslim, the person of color, the gay, the straight, the liberal and conservative, the male and the female. Do not let this one speech steer you away from an extraordinary opportunity.
To the families of scouting, I want to say that your sons, their successes, and their futures are ever entwined with those my own son. Let us stand with our children and serve as examples of service, community and the positive true promise of the Boy Scouts of America.
Chris Mullin is a Boy Scout Troop Committee Member and Scout Parent in Santa Barbara County. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.