Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trustworthy Helpful Kind

A Scout is trustworthy, helpful, kind, cheerful, brave, and reverent. I know, I know. That isn't the whole Scout Law, but I have to emphasize those attributes because those are the ones that I need to remind us of in this moment.

I feel agony that some people believe that Boy Scout leaders aim to instill political vitriol, blind loyalty, and falsehoods into our Boy Scouts because Donald Trump addressed a National Jamboree on Monday. He abused his position, encouraged the boys to boo a past President, and continued a campaign that should have ended months ago. I am enraged that Trump spoke the way he did, working to make the Scouts puppets for the sake of his own ego.

I am actively involved in Boy Scouts. I just finished a series of meetings to help a group of them complete their Citizenship in the Community merit badge. We played games to work on the merit badge. It was a joy to discuss with them what distinguishes a good leader from a great one. I loved listening to these boys yell out the most necessary aspects of building a strong and safe community while playing our game. Hatred, following herd mentality, and dishonesty were not part of those attributes.

I've closely watched the leaders of the troops in my district. As I worked with the Scouts, I was able to point to them, among others, as leaders who serve the community. They are human yet time and again they provide a good example to the Scouts, striving to achieve the characteristics that both the Scout Law and the Scout Oath embody.

The big thing that outsiders often lose sight of when Boy Scouts are drawn into political debate is that Boy Scout leaders influence Scouts while having fun and enjoying the outdoors. Scouts see a man joyfully playing capture the flag. They see a man at a campfire, awed by a wilderness night. They see a man overcome his own fears to go caving, climbing, or canoeing. They get opportunities to overcome their own set of fears. On most trips, everyone in the group cooks, cleans, carries group gear, usually suffers together, and ultimately supports each other to get back to the trail-head parking lot safely. Then they take turns telling jokes and stories around a campfire or during a Scout meeting about what happened on that trip.

Those stories set experience into character. Remember that time when it rained for four days in the Boundary waters? Mosquitoes whined like drones, bit every inch of living flesh. Remember when lightning struck the lake as we watched from under our tarp on the lakeside? Remember when we gave extra food to those campers who lost theirs to a bear in the night?

The words trustworthy, helpful, kind, cheerful, brave, and reverent begin to take true meaning in their minds.

These are not the characteristics that Donald Trump embodied on Monday night. His moment at the podium in front of thousands of Boy Scouts should not be the means by which we should judge the Boy Scouts of America. It should not be used as a means by which we condemn their leaders either.

Thank you for listening, jules

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