Eager to learn more, Mr. Boyce sought out and met with Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement in Great Britain. Boyce knew that the boys back home would like the idea, so he brought Scouting to the United States. Papers incorporating the Boy Scouts of America were signed on February 8, 1910, which is the date we celebrate the official birthday of the BSA.
If it wasn't for the Boy Scouts of America, I wouldn't have met my wife back in 1998 and we wouldn't have three awesome boys, two of which are in Cub Scouts. I wouldn't have contacts all over the United States and beyond that I can call upon to help out at a moment's notice. Without the Boy Scouts, who knows where or who I would be today.
However, recently the BSA has come under fire again for their "membership policies" and this week they were supposed to make a decision on the topic. They released this statement:
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...the youth of America. I say youth and not boys because Scouting has evolved over the years into something bigger than just Cub and Boy Scouts. With this evolution came criticism but in time the critics have evolved too. Scouting has had many obstacles in the past all of which they made a decision and over came the obstacle.
- In the late 1940s there was an uprising where Scout Troops threatened to leave the Scouting program because the BSA was allowing African Americans into their group. Everything worked out thanks to James E. West.
- It wasn't until 1988 when the BSA voted to allow women to be direct leaders in the organization. They were allowed to be Den Mothers or Den Leaders later one, but the BSA voted to change that and allow them the ability to be Scoutmasters and Cubmasters within the units. Today, I know many women who are Scoutmasters and Cubmasters and they do a fantastic job.
- In 1913 the Catholic church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepted the BSA, with stipulations, thus bringing the Scouting program into their organizations. They did not want to be affiliated with the BSA because of the enduring ties with the YMCA, which is a firmly Protestant organization.
Like I mentioned, I've been in Scouting since 1986 and not once did a Leader, Youth Leader, Merit Badge Councilor or any other adult in the program discuss sexuality with me. There is not a merit badge or belt loop for it, it's not in any of the requirements in any of the handbooks and it isn't in the Scout Oath, Cub Scout Promise, Law of the Pack or the Scout Law and "both sides" need to see that.
You have one side who wants to be recognized and "accepted". They want the BSA to come out and publicly say "You guys are OK." Then you have the other side who believes that if someone is not like them, they are wrong and they want the BSA to uphold that.
From my point of view, they're both wrong. We are all humans and the Scouting program promotes that. "Both sides" have lost sight of the youth and instilling good values and helping them find who they are. In my opinion it isn't about religion, race or sexual orientation, it's about having the Scouts grow up, learning life skills and preparing them for adulthood. As a Cubmaster I teach the Scouts about equality, respect and being kind.
What it comes down to is humans are made up of the same organic matter, breath the same air and live on the same planet. Both sides need to see that, maybe some more than others and get back to who the Boy Scouts of America is geared for, the youth.
Boy Scouts of America, you have stood strong for 103 years and have overcome many obstacles and made hard decisions. I have faith in you now that you will make the right decision and continue to put the youth first and not let "both sides" overtake first priority. Happy Birthday old friend.